How to make global fisheries worth five times more: study

July 13, 2012, University of British Columbia

Rebuilding global fisheries would make them five times more valuable while improving ecology, according to a new University of British Columbia study, published today in the online journal PLoS ONE.

By reducing the size of the global , 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.

"We should be getting more from our fisheries, rather than less," says Sumaila. "If the environmental and sustainability reasons alone can't convince global governments to take action, the should."

"This study shows that politicians can no longer use the excuse that rebuilding fisheries is too expensive," says Daniel Pauly, principal investigator of UBC's Sea Around Us Project and a study co-author. "Not only is rebuilding better for the economy, it's better for ecology."

In addition to eliminating harmful subsidies, new policies would need to address poor regulation, particularly on the high seas, and illegal fishing.

Explore further: Fuel subsidies better spent re-training fishers: UBC researchers

More information: The study is available at

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not rated yet Jul 14, 2012
The ecological catastrophe creeping up on the world's ocean [singular because ultimately it is just one big puddle 4km deep covering most of the Earth] is the really big sleeper issue at the moment.

There is however a way to solve virtually all the problems facing the ocean. The problems are acidification and ecological devastation. The article speaks of reducing the global, annual, fish catch. Well that's a good idea but it's not going to happen voluntarily - it hasn't yet - but it _will_ happen as stocks of breeding adult fish fall below critical threshold levels and whole species are reduced to near extinction. What that space folks because you _are_ going to read about it!

But there is good news for those not afraid to think outside the square and who are prepared to start actively thinking about how to implement the cure.


not rated yet Jul 14, 2012
Fixing the ocean cont ...

As far as preserving and recovering the stocks of edible fish species goes, the answer is to _start feeding them! Holy shit, why is it that I have never yet read of anybody thinking this screamingly obvious thought? It is the lot of humankind to be the conservators and farmers of the planet. Farmers and graziers know that you have to keep sheep, cattle, pigs and chickens fed. That is what we have to do with the fish. How do we do it?

Growing seaweed, that's how. We have to start growing thousands of millions of tonnes of extra seaweed every year. We can do this by

1/ starting at the equator
2/ providing networks of underwater cables for seaweed plants to wrap their holdfasts to. [no roots needed, just an organ to 'hold fast' to a niche with], and
3/ providing nutrients in the form of substances dissolved in water raised from the bottom of the ocean.

not rated yet Jul 14, 2012
seaweed and feeding the fishes cont ...

Water raised from the bottom - only four kilometres away, will the minerals, etc which the plants need to grow. The reason this must be done is because in the ocean _shit sinks! That's right folks, fish pooh goes downwards. It might take a year or more to get to the bottom, due no doubt to being recycled once or twice on the way, but get to the bottom it does where it remains out of reach of photosynthesising plants.

That is why the ocean needs our help to fix itself.
The seaweed forests we are going to grow will
1/ sequester carbon dioxide and stop the acidification,
2/ provide food and habitat for fish, and
3/ provide an inexhaustible supply of fuel in the form of syngas, and feedstock for all manner of plastic and other useful substances, from chemical synthesis out of syngas.

I think that in due course all the world's shipping could come to be powered by syngas.
not rated yet Jul 15, 2012
There is plenty of food available but stocks have no time to recover.

The problem is large expensive to run fishing boats where one has to catch so much just to break even so they make them even larger!!

Far better would be smaller boats. preferably 2-3 huilled ones for better confort, lower fuel needs wind and solar powered crewed by 1-3 people using methods like drop lines, mid water nets, etc rather than bottom trawls that destroy everything. Such a fishing boat would cost under $20/day to run, vs $1,000's for many trawlers, etc ones. Thus the fisherman actually can make money instead of paying for fuel, etc.

Longlines should be short and brought in every 2 hrs so unwanted fish can be let go live.

Plus this way takes more CO2, etc out of the water.
not rated yet Jul 16, 2012
jerryd, I am not sure how you can know that 'There is plenty of food available'; it seems to me that since earliest times humans have just assumed that the sea goes on forever. What I mean is that there have been very few places ever where fisher folk were doing anything but _take_ from the ocean. Today is no different but now at least a thousand million people depend on seafood for their protein and many more need fish to keep them healthy, plus vast amounts of fish meal are used for all manner of industrial and agricultural purposes.

I think your view of trawling is correct; I can't see how a process analogous to the clear felling of forests can possibly be sustainable the the continental shelves. I think also, however, that many people would object to the idea of using much smaller boats due to the greater danger of capsizing and the generally much rougher ride.

It is a tremendous challenge: one of the big 'sleeper' issues about to wake up and bite us all!

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