SYDNEY, April 12 (Xinhua) -- Australian researchers have compiled an unparalleled database detailing the 5.8 trillion tonnes of global fishing since 1950.
The database, created by the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) at the University of Tasmania, was based on more than 867 million fishing records from 1950 to 2014.
During the 65 years covered by the records, fishers from 193 countries caught 5.8 trillion tonnes of fish from 1443 different species, 892 million tonnes of which was taken illegally.
Reginald Watson, who collated the data, said the database illustrated that the global fish population was finite.
"The database brings together every major international statistical collection of fisheries data since comprehensive records began, providing unique insights into the industry," Watson said in a media release on Wednesday.
"More than 867 million fishing records have been compiled into a single harmonised view and mapped down to tiny spatial cells, so we can see where fishing has been happening and how it's changed over time."
Watson said despite a plateau in recent years, the annual rate of fishing has grown from 27.6 million tonnes of fish taken in 1950 to 120.2 million tonnes in 2014.
"Since 1950 fisheries have moved further offshore and greatly intensified. We now have more vessels of a greater size and storage capacity, spending longer at sea and fishing in deeper waters," he said.
"The annual take could yet increase if we took a bigger proportion of global fish stock, but currently it's peaked around 120 million tonnes, including 17 million tonnes taken illegally and 15 million tonnes discarded."
Researchers worldwide are using the database to inform their research on a wide range of issues.
"Researchers are using the data to study issues such as fisheries management, the global impact of fishing, and how the benefits accrue to different countries," Watson said.
"The data also allows people to look at the interaction of, say, fishing and marine mammals as they feed offshore, and how fishing is impacting on the different eco-regions of the world."