The implications of misreporting on catch trends: a catch reconstruction for the People’s Republic of the Congo, 1950-2010

 

The official fisheries statistics for the People’s Republic of the Congo, also known as ‘Congo (Brazzaville)’ feature increasing landings, despite current, if anecdotal evidence of over-exploitation. This reconstruction brings to light that strong under-reporting in the past masked a massive exploitation and thus biased the trends of reported data. Reconstructed domestic catches within Congo (Brazzaville)’s EEZ increased from 7,110 t in 1950 to a peak of 99,300 t in 1977, declined to 30,500 t on average during the 1990s and then increased slowly to 45,000 t in 2010. Reconstructed total catches from the Congo within its EEZ were on average 2.8 times the data supplied to the FAO. As opposed to official statistics, which may have justified the licensing of an over-capitalized foreign industrial fleet, the reconstructed catch confirms fishers’ accounts of declining catches and resources availability. This situation threatens the livelihoods of the coastal population of the Congo, which faces increasing resource scarcity and poverty.

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