Industrial overfishing is not only destructing marine ecosystems that are already stretched to the limits, it also has huge economic costs, according to a new report titled Jobs Lost at sea by the UK-based New Economics Foundation (NEF). The author of the report found that a large number of jobs and high economic losses, which they estimate at £2.7 billion and 100,000 jobs, can be attributed to the depletion of fish stocks around Europe.
Conversely, fixing the problem can not only have many environmental benefits, but also economic ones. The report Jobs Lost at Sea estimates the benefits of rebuilding 43 European stocks (out of more than 150) and finds that:
- Restoring these 43 stocks to their maximum sustainable yield (MSY) would generate 3.53 million tonnes of additional landings; enough to meet the annual demand of fish for almost 160 million EU citizens.
- Value of restoring fish stocks is worth £2.7 billion (€3.2 bn) per year to all countries. It is worth £1.5 billion (€1.8 bn) per year to the EU27, or almost three times its annual fishing subsidies.
- Value of restoring these fish stocks could support 100,790 new jobs, around 83,000 to the EU27 (31% more than current employment in the EU fishing sector).
- Restoring fish stocks could increase catch values from these stocks by 81% for the EU27, and more than double for most countries, including the UK (+109%) and Germany (+116%).
- Worst affected fish are cod (lost 970,000 tonnes/yr), haddock (lost 378,000 tonnes/yr), herring (lost 854,000 tonnes/yr)and whiting (lost 834,000 tonnes/yr).
Rupert Crilly, an Environmental Economics researcher at NEF, said: “Overfishing is bad for the economy. With the stroke of a pen, European fisheries ministers are wiping out millions of pounds and thousands of jobs each year by allowing overfishing to continue. [...] Restoring fish stocks is within politicians’ power. And in the current economic climate the stakes are higher than ever.”
So what are they waiting for?