Giving oceans a break could generate US$83 billion in additional benefits for fisheries

Giving oceans a break could generate US$83 billion in additional benefits for fisheries
Photo credit: Madjiguene Seck | World Bank

15 Feb 2017

Billions of dollars are lost at sea but different paths to fisheries reform show promising results

Fishing less, and better, could generate an additional $83 billion each year for the fisheries sector, creating a much-needed revenue stream in developing countries and improving global food security, according to a new World Bank Group report.

The Sunken Billions Revisited: Progress and Challenges in Global Marine Fisheries, an update on a 2009 study, shows that reducing the global fishing effort would allow fish stocks to recover from overexploitation and lead to increases in the weight, value and price of fish landed, boosting the profitability of the fisheries sector from an estimated $3 billion a year to $86 billion. It would also lead to more fish being caught and landed, because stocks would have recovered to healthier levels, thus helping meet growing global demand for seafood and improving food security in many countries around the world.

“This study confirms what we have seen in different country contexts: Giving the oceans a break pays off,” said Laura Tuck, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development. “Moving toward more sustainable fisheries management, through approaches that are tailored to local conditions, can yield significant benefits for food security, poverty reduction and long-term growth.”

The bio-economic model used in The Sunken Billions Revisited developed by Ragnar Arnason, professor in the Faculty of Economics at the University of Iceland – treats the world’s marine fisheries as one large fishery. It examines the mismatch between the increasingly high level of effort put into fishing and stagnant or even declining fish catches, and calculates the incremental benefits that could be derived from global fisheries reform.

The analysis reveals foregone economic benefits of about $83 billion in 2012, compared with what could be generated under the optimal scenario. This result is not statistically different from the sunken billions estimated for 2004, which were revised from an estimated $50 billion in the 2009 study to $88 billion in The Sunken Billions Revisited, based on improvements in the model, better data, and adjustment to 2012 dollars. Both figures emphasize the urgent need for reform and the important economic gains that could be made through a more sustainable management of the world’s fisheries.

While the report makes a strong case for investing in the recovery of fish stocks, it does not prescribe a particular reform path. Reform experiences in countries and regions as diverse as Peru, Morocco, the Pacific Islands and West Africa show it is possible to reduce overfishing through locally appropriate reforms that ultimately improve the livelihoods and job security of coastal populations.

Reducing the global fishing effort would allow biological processes to reverse the long-term decline in fish stocks seen in many parts of the world. About 90 percent of marine fisheries monitored by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are fully fished or overfished, up from about 75 percent in 2005. Fish stocks are also under pressure from pollution, coastal development, and the impacts of climate change.

The World Bank helps countries improve the management of their fisheries, invest in sustainable aquaculture, and manage competing pressures on coasts and oceans, to improve the livelihoods of coastal communities and put growth on a more sustainable and resilient footing.

Global Fisheries’ Sunken Billions: Snapshots

Morocco: Tracking vessels for improved compliance with fishing regulations

At a time when many economies are exhausting their natural resources and face constraints exacerbated by climate change, Morocco is setting an example by embracing green growth strategies across sectors, including energy, waste, agriculture and fisheries.

The World Bank has supported Morocco’s vision by providing financing in the form of Development Policy Loans, investment projects, and technical assistance. Although the impacts of climate change on fisheries loom large on the horizon, at present the main threat to growth in the sector lies in the illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing practices that threaten fish population renewal and the livelihoods of about half a million Moroccans.

To address this threat, Morocco has invested in a number of measures including a satellite-based Vessel Monitoring System, which requires all fishing boats above a certain size to be fitted with tracking beacons, and allows them to be followed in real time. Fishing boats must also respect closed areas where stocks are given a chance to recover, and abide by restrictions on allowable fishing gear and minimum size requirements.

Fishers understand the importance of new rules. “If everyone respects the rules…my children will be able to keep fishing here,” said Abdelkrim Bouziane, a fishing boat captain in Casablanca.

West Africa: Empowering small-scale fishers to fight illegal fishing

Fishing represents a culture and a critical source of livelihoods and nutrition in West Africa, yet many fishing communities live in poverty. The World Bank’s West Africa Regional Fisheries Program (WARFP), launched in 2010, aims to increase the economic contribution of marine resources through strengthened fisheries management and governance, reduced illegal fishing, and increased local value added to fish products.

The governments of Sierra Leone and Liberia created 6 mile zones dedicated to small-scale fishing communities where trawlers and other large-scale boats would not be allowed to fish, and formed multi-agency monitoring centers to improve the enforcement of rules. In Liberia, fishers were also equipped with GPS-enabled cameras to take photos of illegal trawlers. As a result, illegal fishing declined and nearshore fish stocks recovered to the benefit of local artisanal fishers.

According to a study published by the Overseas Development Institute, Senegal lost about 2 percent of its GDP to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in 2012. With support from WARFP, Senegal enacted new laws for a sensible and sustainable utilization of fisheries resources, including community-led fisheries management. Co-management of marine resources by artisanal fishers in 12 areas is allowing rare species to return, fish stocks to rebuild and revenues to increase, as is the case in Ngaparou (pictured above), a coastal village south of Dakar.

The country also launched a campaign to register and maintain an updated database of its fishing boats – some 19,000 boats in a first phase – as a step toward better control and management of access in the artisanal fishing sector.

Source World Bank
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Date 15 Feb 2017
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