Global fish stocks are under pressure and fishing is threatening or damaging more and more marine ecosystems, some of which were untouched less than a few decades ago. Sustainable fisheries are a priority for global food security, yet there are huge losses in value because of inefficiencies in the management and implementation of capture fisheries. Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is perhaps the biggest threat to the world’s fish stocks, marine biodiversity and to the livelihoods and food security of coastal communities. Effective reform of global fisheries management and incentives aligned with sustainable growth of aquaculture production would allow us to better protect the habitats and species in our oceans and seas. Furthermore, it would help seafood reach its potential in providing a secure, low-carbon, nutritious food source.
According to the World Bank Sunken Billions Report (2008) approximately US$50 billion a year is lost due to the inefficiency of global capture fisheries. This is approximately 64% of the value of the fish actually landed. In addition, up to a further $23 billion is lost as a result of illegal fishing and up to $35 billion through cost-reducing and capacity-enhancing subsidies every year. This is without even considering the benefits we accrue through fully functioning ecosystems, such as healthy coral reefs that increase tourism, and many more that we are not even aware of.
The two main methods of fisheries management are setting quotas and the implementation of marine-protected areas.
Quotas and Taxation
Quotas aim to regulate the quantities of fish caught through a system of Total Allowable Catches (TAC’s), based on scuentific advice and usually distributed to individual fishing vessels or fleets. However, quotas are not always used in the best possible way and scientific advice is not always followed as it should be. Find out more
Marine Protected Areas
Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s) are designated areas of the ocean that have been afforded some level of restriction. Usually for conservation purposes this contriol can range from estricted seasonal fishing to complete no catch zones. However, they can also be used to protect non living, cultural and historical assets. As a result, they have been shown to make very good fisheries management tools with the added advantage that they can benefit several of these goals at once. Find out more
Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing
Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing directly impacts on fish stocks and efforts to manage fisheries sustainably. Tens of billions of dollars worth of fish are caught illegally each year with far reaching and sometimes unknown environmental, social and economic consequences. There are already examles of complete fisheries collapsing and many more are verging on meeting the same fate. Find out more
Harmful fishing practices
Harmfull fishing practices have arrisen in response to the world’s ever-expanding population. A population of less than two billion at the beginning of the 20th century, to 6 billion at the end, has caused a massive rise in the demand for food. As a result, we have utilised every method possible to increase the amount of fish we catch while also reducing the amount of time it takes to catch them. Unfortunately, this efficiency has led to fishing methods that over time, have had numerous detremental consequences both for fish stocks and the ocean environement itself. Find out more