Feeds

Fishy fishers' fishing figures fingered using Google Earth Gulf pics

Grad student claims thousands more tonnes caught than reported

High performance access to file storage

A scientist has used Google Earth to uncover a Middle Eastern fish scam which could mean that six times more sea dwellers are caught than is officially reported.

Dalal Al-Abdulrazzak wanted to suss out whether fishermen in the Persian Gulf were telling the truth about how many fish they landed.

She carried out the "first example of fisheries catch estimates from space," using the advertising giant's services to look at the coastlines of six countries. After close examination, the oceanic expert spotted 1,900 fish traps, weir-like constructions which have been used for more than 3,000 years.

These trap numbers led her to calculate that the local fishermen could be netting up to 34,000 tonnes of fish every year, much more than the official reported number of 5,908 tonnes in total for the six countries.

Official estimates claim that just 1 percent of the total catch come from these aquatic killing fields.

But Al-Abdulrazzak, a graduate student in fisheries science at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, rubbished the this figure.

"My estimate says it is closer to 10 percent," Al-Abdulrazzak said. "So, it is a lot more significant than they are giving these traps credit for."

She analysed Google Maps images from 2005, which were the last decent shots of the Persian Gulf at low tide, counting some 1,656 fish traps, which she then bumped up to 1,900 to make up for gaps in coverage and areas which were only pictured in low resolution.

After oil, fisheries are the second most important resource in the Gulf. The scrabble for cash could "could have dire consequences for fisheries stock in the long term", Al-Abdulrazzak warned.

Weirs have been used in the area for three millenia. Fish swim into them at high tide and bump into a wall, before instinctively swimming in the direction of the deep sea. However, instead of paddling to freedom, they end up stuck in an enclosure.

"Once they are in there and the tide starts receding, they are stuck. At low tide, the fishermen can just walk out and start collecting the fish," Al-Abdulrazzak continued.

The traps are particularly dangerous to young fish who have yet to spawn, as they prefer to swim in shallow waters around the coastline.

The research is called Managing fisheries from space: Google Earth improves estimates of distant fish catches and is published in the ICES Journal of Marine Science. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Saturn spotted spawning new FEMTO-MOON
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.