Rebuilding Global Fisheries Would Make Them 5x More Valuable While Improving Oceanic Health

CC BY-SA 3.0. Wikipedia

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Action is Overdue to Protect Our Oceans

Ocean fishing is clearly a case of tragedy of the commons. Everybody would do better if they all scaled back to allow fisheries to recover, but nobody wants to be the one doing the scaling back, and so everybody suffers; marine ecosystems first, but also the more than 1 billion people for whom fish is the main source of protein.

But if we act smartly, there is hope. That's a big "if", though...


Massive Economic and Environmental Gains Await

Researchers at the University of British Columbia has released a study (you can read the whole thing, it is available freely) that shows how the economics of rebuilding global fisheries would work. It's a good approach, since the current destruction come mostly from economic factors...

The authors of the study have found that a dramatic positive impact, both economically and environmentally, could be gained:

By reducing the size of the global fishing fleet, eliminating harmful government subsidies, and putting in place effective management systems, global fisheries would be worth US$54 billion each year, rather than losing US$13 billion per year.
“Global fisheries are not living up to their economic potential in part because governments keep them afloat by subsidizing unprofitable large scale fishing fleets with taxpayer money,” says study lead author Rashid Sumaila, a fisheries economist and director of the UBC Fisheries Centre. “This is like sinking money into a series of small, cosmetic fixes in an old home rather than investing in a complete, well thought-out renovation that boosts the home’s value.”
Despite the US$130- to US$292-billion price tag for transitioning global fisheries, the study’s authors estimate that in just 12 years, the returns would begin to outweigh the costs and the total gains over 50 years would return the investment three- to seven-fold.

Over a 50-year period, this would be a net gain of US$600 to US$1,400 billion in present value. And this doesn't even count benefits to recreational fisheries or indirect benefits.

So the excuse used by many politicians that it's too expensive to act is bogus. The real question is: Can we afford not to act?

bluefin tuna photo

Via UBC, PLoS One

See also: Protecting 4% of the Oceans at 9 Locations Could Save Most Marine Mammals Species