Persian Gulf from the air. (Photo Credit: NASA)
Unreported catch revealed through Google Earth
Thursday, November 28, 2013, 03:20 (GMT + 9)
Canadian researchers from the University of British Columbia found out that small-scale fisheries may be catching six times higher fish volumes than it had been officially reported in the Persian Gulf to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2005.
The scientists that conducted the study remarked that this unreported fish capture using traps called weirs has been revealed through the use of remote-sensing approaches such as Google Earth imagery, which have the potential to validate catch statistics and fisheries operations in general, CBC News reported.
The results of this investigation were published this week in the ICES Journal of Marine Science.
"Because countries don't provide reliable information on their fisheries' catches, we need to expand our thinking and look at other sources of information and new technologies to tell us about what's happening in our oceans," stressed the study co-author Daniel Pauly.
The researchers involved in the study found out that this unreported fishing practice has been performed with fishing weirs, which are 300 feet long semi-permanent traps made of bamboo and wire mesh that make use of tidal differences to catch a wide variety of marine species.
"This ancient fishing technique has been around for thousands of years," Dalal Al-Abdulrazzak, a doctoral student at the UBC's Fisheries Center and the study's lead author, stressed.
And the scientist added: "But we haven't been able to truly grasp their impact on our marine resources until now, with the help of modern technology."
Al-Abdulrazzak estimates that Iran's weirs land about 12,000 tonnes of fish per year and remarked the need to improve fishing statistics quality to avoid underreported small-scale fisheries.
Besides, she explained that weir fishing can be harmful particularly to marine ecosystems because “it tends to scoop up juvenile fish from their nursery grounds in shallow waters, long before they have a chance to spawn.”