Global fisheries catch statistics are often incomplete; the contribution of many sectors, including small-scale fisheries, illegal catches, and discards are frequently absent from or under-reported in statistics submitted annually by member countries of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This incomplete accounting in official statistics, and the resulting distorted historical trends, impairs our understanding of the management and policy prescriptions necessary for fisheries sustainability. This chapter describes an approach to retroactively estimate catches where comprehensive time series data are lacking. Data are gathered from non-traditional sources, such as unpublished studies, grey literature, published studies and surveys, or from sources unrelated to fisheries such as satellite imagery. We present examples of the discrepancy between reported and reconstructed catches and discuss the implications of such misreporting for management and fisheries policy on national, regional, and global scales.
Al-Abdulrazzak, D., D. Zeller, and D. Pauly. 2014. Understanding fisheries through historical reconstructions: Applications to fishery management and policy at different governance scales. In “Marine Historical Ecology in Conservation: Applying the Past to Manage for the Future”. J.N. Kittinger, L. McClenachan, K. Gedan, and L.K. Blight (eds.). University of California Press.