Acta Ichthyologica et Piscatoria 45(3): 259-272, doi: 10.3750/AIP2015.45.3.05
Reconstruction of Syria’s fisheries catches from 1950–2010: Signs of overexploitation
expand article infoA. Ulman, A. Saad, K. Zylich, D. Pauly, D. Zeller
Open Access
Background. The global community infers trends in fisheries through the catch data assembled by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) from its member countries. Thus, inferences depend on the quality of the member country data, and hence their national data collection systems. Syria’s national catch data are assembled from market assessments (market sales) from a subset of fish markets, therefore exclude non-commercial landings and direct sales that by-pass markets. Furthermore, discards are also not accounted for. Our goal was to provide comprehensive estimates of Syrian marine catches for 1950–2010 by fishing sectors plus major discards, using a catch reconstruction approach. Materials and methods. Catches were estimated from 1950–2010, by industrial (large-scale commercial), artisanal (small-scale commercial), recreational (small-scale non-commercial), and subsistence (small-scale non-commercial) sectors, plus major discards. We reviewed published literature, grey literature, and unpublished data from local experts to obtain a first comprehensive estimate of total Syrian catches (landings + discards). Results. The reconstructed catch for 1950–2010 (including reported data) is nearly 170 000 t, which is 78% more than Syria reports to the FAO. By 2010, reconstructed catch was over 2 times the reported data. The reconstruction added 74 000 t of unreported catches, consisting of 38 600 t of artisanal-, 16 000 t of industrial-, 4000 t of recreational-, and 3000 t of subsistence catches, plus around 12 000 t of discards. Syrian fisheries are dominated by the artisanal sector (67% of total catch, including discards), while industrial, recreational and subsistence catches account for 29%, 3%, and 2%, respectively. Discards accounted for 7% of total catch. Conclusion. Our reconstructed catch estimates for Syria provide a comprehensive account of total removals by Syria for 1950–2010. This study also supports other observations that the state of the fisheries is declining due to overexploitation, as suggested by the observed increase in fishing effort, declining CPUE and the amount of juvenile fish in catches. More effective management measures are needed to ensure Syrians can benefit more from their local fisheries.
Eastern Mediterranean, fisheries statistics, industrial fisheries, artisanal fisheries, subsistence fisheries, recreational fisheries, unreported catches, discards