Daniel Pauly

Daniel Pauly is a French-born marine biologist, well known for his work in studying human impacts on global fisheries. He is a professor and the project leader of the Sea Around Us Project at the UBC Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries at the University of British Columbia. He also served as Director of the UBC Fisheries Centre from November 2003 to October 2008.

Daniel Pauly
Daniel Pauly Pauly Symposium
Daniel Pauly
BornMay 2, 1946 (age 72)
Alma materUniversity of Kiel
Known forSea Around Us Project
Shifting baselines
Fishing down marine food webs
Sea Around Us Project
Ecopath with Ecosim
AwardsInternational Cosmos Prize (2005)
Volvo Environment Prize (2006)
Ramon Margalef Prize in Ecology (2008)
Albert Ier Grand Medal in Science (2016)
Ocean Award (2017)
Scientific career
FieldsMarine biologist, fisheries scientist
InstitutionsUBC Fisheries Centre
University of British Columbia
Doctoral advisorGotthilf Hempel


Pauly was born in Paris, France. He grew up, however, in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland in what was called a strange "Dickensian" childhood where he was forced to stay as a live-in servant to a new family. For the first 16 years of his life, Pauly lived an inward life as he was mixed race in an all white town, finding solace in books/reading and model construction. At 16 he ran away and put himself through high school in Wuppertal, Germany after one year working with disabled people for a local church-run institution. His work led to a scholarship to the University of Kiel.

It was at the University of Kiel where Pauly decided on fisheries biology. He said he wanted to work in the tropics because he felt that he would "fit in" better there. He also wanted to devote his life to an applied job where he could help people.

He did a master's degree at Kiel University under Gotthilf Hempel on "The ecology and fishery of a small West African lagoon".[1] Pauly then spent two years conducting trawling surveys as a member of a German-Indonesian project aiming at introducing this relatively new gear.[2] He began to write on tropical fisheries management; later his emphasis switched to global fisheries trends and conservation.

Pauly completed his Ph.D. at Kiel University in Germany, again under Hempel, in which he established strong relationships between the surface area of gills and the growth of fishes and aquatic (gill-breathing) invertebrates.[3]

Daniel Pauly in conversation with Silver Donald Cameron about his work.

After his Ph.D., Pauly worked for 15 years at the International Center for Living and Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM), in Manila, Philippines. Early in his career at ICLARM, Pauly worked in the tropics and developed new methods for estimating fish populations. Pauly helped to design, implement, and perfect methods using length-frequency data instead of the age of fish to estimate parameters of fisheries statistics such as growth and mortality.

Later, he helped develop two major projects: ELEFAN and FishBase. ELEFAN (ELectronic Length Frequency ANalysis) made it possible to use length-frequency data to estimate the growth and mortality of fishes. FishBase is an online encyclopedia of fish and fisheries information comprising information on more than 30,000 different species. Both projects received worldwide attention and through multiple upgrades and additions, are still prominent in fisheries biology.

Through the 1990s, Pauly’s work centered on the effects of overfishing. The author of several books and more than 500 scientific papers, Pauly is a prolific writer and communicator. He developed the concept of shifting baselines in 1995 and authored the seminal paper, Fishing down marine food webs, in 1998.[4] For working to protect the environment, he earned a place in the "Scientific American 50" in 2003, the same year The New York Times labeled him an "iconoclast". Pauly won the International Cosmos Prize in 2005, the Volvo Environment Prize in 2006, the Excellence in Ecology Prize and Ted Danson Ocean Hero Award in 2007, the Ramon Margalef Prize in Ecology and Environmental Sciences in 2008, and the Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 2012. In 2015, Pauly received the Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Excellence in Science.[1] In 2016, he was honored in Paris with the Albert Ier Grand Medal in the Science category. In 2017, he received, together with Dirk Zeller as part of the Sea Around Us leading team, the Ocean Award in the Science category.

Also in 2017 and specifically on French National Day, he was named Chevalier de la Légion D’Honneur.

Pauly has written several books, including Darwin's Fishes (Cambridge University Press), Five Easy Pieces: How Fishing Impacts Marine Ecosystems (Island Press) and Gasping Fish and Panting Squids: Oxygen, Temperature and the Growth of Water-Breathing Animals.


To date, he frequently expresses opinions about public policy. Specifically, he argues that governments should abolish subsidies to fishing fleets[5] and establish marine reserves. He is a member of the Board of Oceana. In a 2009 article written for The New Republic, Pauly compares today's fisheries to a global Ponzi scheme.[6]


Select publications

  • Pauly D and Zeller D (2016) Catch reconstructions reveal that global marine fisheries catches are higher than reported and declining. Nature Communications, 1-9.
  • Pauly D (2010) 5 easy pieces: how fishing impacts marine ecosystems Island Press. ISBN 978-1-59726-719-9.
  • Pauly D (2009) "Aquacalypse Now" The New Republic, September 28.
  • Pauly D, Christensen V, Guénette S, Pitcher TJ, Sumaila UR, Walters CJ, Watson R, Zeller D (2002) "Towards sustainability in world fisheries" Nature, 418: 689-695.
  • Pauly D (1998) "Why squids, though not fish, may be better understood by pretending they are". In: Payne, A.I.L., Lipinkski, M.R., Clarke, M.R. and Roeleveld, M.A.C. (eds.). Cephalopod biodiversity, Ecology and Evolution. South African Journal of Marine Science, 20: 47-58.
  • Pauly D, Christensen V, Dalsgaard J, Froese R and Torres F (1998) "Fishing down marine food webs" Science, 279: 860-863.
  • Pauly D (1998) "Beyond our original horizons: the tropicalization of Beverton and Holt". Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, 8(3): 307-334.
  • Pauly D (1995) "Anecdotes and the shifting baseline syndrome of fisheries". TREE 10(10): 430
  • Pauly D and Christensen V (1995) "Primary production required to sustain global fisheries" Nature, 374(6519): 255-257.
  • Pauly D (1981) "The relationships between gill surface area and growth performance in fish: a generalization of von Bertalanffy’s theory of growth". Berichte der Deutschen Wissenchaftlichen Kommission für Meeresforschung, 28(4): 251-282.
  • Pauly D (1981) "On the interrelationships between natural mortality, growth parameters and mean environmental temperature in 175 fish stocks". Journal du Conseil international pour l'Exploration de la Mert, 39(3): 175-192.
  • Pauly D and David N (1981) "ELEFAN I, a BASIC, program for the objective extraction of growth parameters from length-frequency data". Reports on Marine Research, pp. 205–211.


  1. ^ Pauly, D. 1973. Investigation on the ecology and fishery of a small West African Lagoon. M.Sc. Thesis. In German with an English summary
  2. ^ Malakoff 2002
  3. ^ Pauly, D (1998) Why squids, though not fish, may be better understood by pretending they are In: Payne AIL, Lipinkski MR, Clarke MR and Roeleveld MAC (eds). Cephalopod biodiversity, Ecology and Evolution. South African Journal of marine Science 20: 47-58
  4. ^ Pauly D, V Christensen, J Dalsgaard, R Froese, and F Torres Jr. (1998) Fishing down marine food webs Science 279: 860-863.
  5. ^ AAAS (2007) The last wild hunt – Deep-sea fisheries scrape bottom of the sea
  6. ^ Aquacalypse Now, The New Republic, September 28, 2009


External links


Caesioperca is a genus of ray-finned fish in the sub-family Anthiadinae in the sea bass family Serranidae. It contains just two species, found in the ocean off Southern Australia and New Zealand.


Caprodon is a small genus of fish belonging to the subfamily Anthiadinae. It contains three species.


Carcharhiniformes, the ground sharks, with over 270 species, are the largest order of sharks. They include a number of common types, such as catsharks, swellsharks, and the sandbar shark.

Members of this order are characterized by the presence of a nictitating membrane over the eye, two dorsal fins, an anal fin, and five gill slits.

The families in the order Carcharhiniformes are expected to be revised; recent DNA studies show that some of the conventional groups are not monophyletic.


Clupea is genus of planktivorous bony fish belonging to the family Clupeidae, commonly known as herrings. They are found in the shallow, temperate waters of the North Pacific and the North Atlantic oceans, including the Baltic Sea. Three species of Clupea are recognized. The main taxa, the Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) and the Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) may each be divided into subspecies. Herrings are forage fish moving in vast schools, coming in spring to the shores of Europe and America, where they form important commercial fisheries.


Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) is a free ecosystem modelling software suite, initially started at NOAA by Jeffrey Polovina, but has since primarily been developed at the UBC Fisheries Centre of the University of British Columbia. In 2007, it was named as one of the ten biggest scientific breakthroughs in NOAA's 200-year history. The NOAA citation states that Ecopath "revolutionized scientists' ability worldwide to understand complex marine ecosystems". Behind this lie more than two decades of development work in association with Villy Christensen, Carl Walters, Daniel Pauly, and other fisheries scientists, followed with the provision of user support, training and co-development collaborations. Per January 2012 there are 6000+ registered users in 150+ countries.

Fishing down the food web

Fishing down the food web is the process whereby fisheries in a given ecosystem, "having depleted the large predatory fish on top of the food web, turn to increasingly smaller species, finally ending up with previously spurned small fish and invertebrates".The process was first demonstrated by the fisheries scientist Daniel Pauly and others in an article published in the journal Science in 1998. Large predator fish with higher trophic levels have been depleted in wild fisheries. As a result, the fishing industry has been systematically "fishing down the food web", targeting fish species at progressively decreasing trophic levels.

The trophic level of a fish is the position it occupies on the food chain. The article establishes the importance of the mean trophic level of fisheries as a tool for measuring the health of ocean ecosystems. In 2000, the Convention on Biological Diversity selected the mean trophic level of fisheries catch, renamed the "Marine Trophic Index" (MTI), as one of eight indicators of ecosystem health. However, many of the world's most lucrative fisheries are crustacean and mollusk fisheries, which are at low trophic levels and thus result in lower MTI values.


"Bristlemouth" redirects here. This name is also used to refer to some of the related Sternoptychidae, namely the genus Argyripnus.

The Gonostomatidae are a family of mesopelagic marine fish, commonly named bristlemouths, lightfishes, or anglemouths. It is a relatively small family, containing only eight known genera and 32 species. However, bristlemouths make up for their lack of diversity with numbers: Cyclothone, with 12 species, is thought to be (along with Vinciguerria) the most abundant vertebrate genus in the world, numbering in the hundreds of trillions to quadrillions.The fossil record of this family dates back to the Miocene epoch. Living bristlemouths were discovered by William Beebe in the early 1930s and described by L. S. Berg in 1958. The fish are mostly found in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, although the species Cyclothone microdon may be found in Arctic waters. They have elongated bodies from 2 to 30 cm (0.79 to 11.81 in) in length. They have a number of green or red light-producing photophores aligned along the undersides of their heads or bodies. Their chief common name, bristlemouth, comes from their odd, equally sized, and bristle-like teeth. They are typically black in color which provides camouflage from predators in deep, dark waters.


The Hexanchiformes are the order consisting of the most primitive types of sharks, and numbering just seven extant species. Fossil sharks that were apparently very similar to modern sevengill species are known from Jurassic specimens.Hexanchiform sharks have only one dorsal fin, either six or seven gill slits, and no nictitating membrane in the eyes. Shark teeth similar to those modern hexanchids are known from Devonian deposits in Antarctica and Australia, as well as Permian deposits in Japan. If these are in fact hexanchids, this may be the only extant order of elasmobranchs to have survived after the Permian extinction (and by extension, the oldest extant order of elasmobranchs) .

The frilled sharks of the genus Chlamydoselachus are very different from the cow sharks, and have been proposed to be moved to a distinct order, Chlamydoselachiformes.


Houndsharks, the Triakidae, are a family of ground sharks, consisting of about 40 species in nine genera. In some classifications, the family is split into two subfamilies, with Mustelus, Scylliogaleus, and Triakis in the subfamily Triakinae, and the remaining genera in the subfamily Galeorhininae.

Houndsharks are distinguished by possessing two large, spineless dorsal fins, an anal fin, and oval eyes with nictitating eyelids. They are small to medium in size, ranging from 37 to 220 cm (1.21 to 7.22 ft) in adult length. They are found throughout the world in warm and temperate waters, where they feed on fish and invertebrates on the seabed and in midwater.


The Lamnidae are the family of mackerel or white sharks. They are large, fast-swimming sharks, found in oceans worldwide. The name of the family is formed from the Greek word, lamna, which means fish of prey, and was derived from the Greek legendary creature, the Lamia.These sharks have pointed snouts, spindle-shaped bodies, and large gill openings. The first dorsal fin is large, high, stiff, and angular or somewhat rounded. The second dorsal and anal fins are minute. The caudal peduncle has a couple of less distinct keels. The teeth are gigantic. The fifth gill opening is in front of the pectoral fin and spiracles are sometimes absent. They are heavily built sharks, sometimes weighing nearly twice as much as sharks of comparable length from other families. Many sharks in the family are among the fastest-swimming fish, although the massive great white shark is slower due to its great size.


Mahseer (Hindi: महाशीर or महासीर; Urdu: مہاشیر‎) is the common name used for the genera Tor, Neolissochilus, and Naziritor in the family Cyprinidae (carps). The name is, however, more often restricted to members of the genus Tor. The range of these fish is from Malaysia, Indonesia, and across southern Asia including the Indian Peninsula and Pakistan. They are commercially important game fish, as well as highly esteemed food fish. Mahseer fetch high market price, and are potential candidate species for aquaculture. Several of the larger species have suffered severe declines, and are now considered threatened due to pollution, habitat loss, and overfishing.

The taxonomy of the mahseers is confusing due to the morphological variations they exhibit. In developing strategies for aquaculture and propagation assisted rehabilitation of mahseer species, resolution of taxonomic ambiguities is needed.Mahseers inhabit both rivers and lakes, ascending to rapid streams with rocky bottoms for breeding. Like other types of carps, they are omnivorous, eating not only algae, crustaceans, insects, frogs, and other fish, but also fruits that fall from trees overhead.

The first species from this group were scientifically described by Francis Buchanan-Hamilton in 1822, and first mentioned as an angling challenge by the Oriental Sporting Magazine in 1833, soon becoming a favorite quarry of British anglers living in India. The golden mahseer is the largest member of the group and one of the largest cyprinids; it has been known to reach 2.75 m (9 ft 0 in) in length and 54 kg (119 lb) in weight, although specimens of this size are rarely seen nowadays. In addition to being caught for sport, mahseer are also part of commercial fishing and ornamental or aquarium fish.

Mullet (fish)

The mullets or grey mullets are a family (Mugilidae) of ray-finned fish found worldwide in coastal temperate and tropical waters, and some species in fresh water. Mullets have served as an important source of food in Mediterranean Europe since Roman times. The family includes about 78 species in 20 genera.Mullets are distinguished by the presence of two separate dorsal fins, small triangular mouths, and the absence of a lateral line organ. They feed on detritus, and most species have unusually muscular stomachs and a complex pharynx to help in digestion.


The ricefishes are a family (Adrianichthyidae) of small ray-finned fish that are found in fresh and brackish waters from India to Japan and out into the Malay Archipelago, most notably Sulawesi (where the Lake Poso and Lore Lindu species are known as buntingi). The common name ricefish derives from the fact that some species are found in rice paddies. This family consists of about 37 species in two genera (some recognize a third, Xenopoecilus). Several species are rare and threatened, and some 2–4 may already be extinct.


The Samaridae are a family, the crested flounders, of small flatfishes native to the Indo-Pacific. They were formerly classified as a subfamily of Pleuronectidae. The family contains four genera with a total of almost 30 species.


SeaLifeBase is a global online database of information about marine life. It aims to provide key information on the taxonomy, distribution and ecology of all marine species in the world apart from finfish. SeaLifeBase is in partnership with the WorldFish Center in Malaysia and the UBC Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia. Daniel Pauly is the principal investigator and it is coordinated by Maria Lourdes D. Palomares. As of October 2016, it included descriptions of 74,000 species, 47,700 common names, 12,400 pictures, and references to 31,700 works in the scientific literature. SeaLifeBase complements FishBase, which provides parallel information for finfish.

Shifting baseline

A shifting baseline (also known as sliding baseline) is a type of change to how a system is measured, usually against previous reference points (baselines), which themselves may represent significant changes from an even earlier state of the system.

The concept arose in landscape architect Ian McHarg's 1969 manifesto Design With Nature in which the modern landscape is compared to that on which ancient people once lived. The concept was then considered by the fisheries scientist Daniel Pauly in his paper "Anecdotes and the shifting baseline syndrome of fisheries". Pauly developed the concept in reference to fisheries management where fisheries scientists sometimes fail to identify the correct "baseline" population size (e.g. how abundant a fish species population was before human exploitation) and thus work with a shifted baseline. He describes the way that radically depleted fisheries were evaluated by experts who used the state of the fishery at the start of their careers as the baseline, rather than the fishery in its untouched state. Areas that swarmed with a particular species hundreds of years ago, may have experienced long term decline, but it is the level of decades previously that is considered the appropriate reference point for current populations. In this way large declines in ecosystems or species over long periods of time were, and are, masked. There is a loss of perception of change that occurs when each generation redefines what is "natural".

Most modern fisheries stock assessments do not ignore historical fishing and account for it by either including the historical catch or use other techniques to reconstruct the depletion level of the population at the start of the period for which adequate data is available. Anecdotes about historical populations levels can be highly unreliable and result in severe mismanagement of the fishery.The concept was further refined and applied to the ecology of kelp forests by Paul Dayton and others from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. They used a slightly different version of the term in their paper, "Sliding baselines, ghosts, and reduced expectations in kelp forest communities". Both terms refer to a shift over time in the expectation of what a healthy ecosystem baseline looks like.


Tonguefishes are flatfishes in the family Cynoglossidae. They are distinguished by the presence of a long hook on the snout overhanging the mouth, and the absence of pectoral fins. Their eyes are both on the left side of their bodies, which also lack a pelvic fin. This family has three genera with a total of more than 140 species. The largest reaches a length of 66 cm (26 in), though most species only reach half that size or less.

They are found in tropical and subtropical oceans, mainly in shallow waters and estuaries, though a few species found in deep sea floors, and a few in rivers.

Symphurus thermophilus lives congregating around "ponds" of sulphur at hydrothermal vents on the seafloor. No other flatfish is known from hydrothermal vents. Scientists are unsure of the mechanism that allows the fish to survive and even thrive in such a hostile environment.

Viviparous brotula

The viviparous brotulas form a family, the Bythitidae, of ophidiiform fishes. They are known as viviparous brotulas as they generally bear live young, although there are indications that some species (at least Didymothallus criniceps) do not. They are generally infrequently seen, somewhat tadpole-like in overall shape and mostly about 5–10 cm (2–4 in) in length, but some species grow far larger and may surpass 60 cm (2 ft).Although many live near the coast in tropical or subtropical oceans, there are also species in deep water and cold oceans, for example Bythites. Thermichthys hollisi, which lives at depths of around 2,500 m (8,200 ft), is associated with thermal vents. A few are fresh or brackish water cavefish: the Mexican blind brotula (Typhliasina pearsei), Galapagos cuskeel (Ogilbia galapagosensis), Diancistrus typhlops and some Lucifuga species.Since 2002, more than 110 new species have been added to this family.

In 2005, 26 new species were described in a single paper by Danish and German scientists and in 2007, an additional eight new genera with 20 new species were described in another paper by the same scientists.In some classifications the family Aphyonidae is placed within the Bythitidae and the tribe Dinematichthyini of the subfamily Brosmophycinae has been raised to the status of a family, the Dinematichthyidae which contains 25 genera and 114 species.The Bythitidae is divided as follows:

Subfamily Brosmophycinae

Tribe Dinematichthyini

























Tribe Brosmophycini









Subfamily Bythitinae























Zaniolepis is a genus of scorpaeniform fish native to the eastern Pacific Ocean. Z. frenata is known to have been a source of food to the Native American inhabitants of San Nicolas Island off the coast of southern California, United States during the Middle Holocene.

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