Too Few Fish

Bridges Weekly Trade Digest Reports today:

Global fisheries have little capacity to withstand any increase in fishing activities, according a new report on the state of world marine stocks.

“Too Few Fish: A regional assessment of the world’s fisheries,” released Monday by the environmental group Oceana, maintains that more than 80 percent of the world’s fisheries cannot survive increased fishing activity and that only 17 percent of global fish stocks should be considered able to withstand any growth in catch at all.

Oceana’s report reviews data gathered by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on the status of fish stocks both regionally and globally. The report maintains that “the reality (is) that the vast majority of stocks are exploited at or beyond their maximum sustainable potential.” Of stocks reviewed in the report, 77 percent are at a level at which no further expansion is possible. Significantly, this is the first time ever that total global catches are reported to be declining, despite technological advances.

Regionally, the northeast Atlantic, southeast Atlantic, southeast Pacific, and the southern oceans have the highest proportion of overexploited, depleted and recovering stocks. Additionally, eight out of the ten species that account for 30 percent of the global marine catch are either fully exploited or over exploited.

The report also highlights the need for strong action to limit global fisheries subsidies in the ongoing fisheries negotiations of the Doha Round of the WTO. Oceana argues that continued government subsidies to fishing sectors create incentives for fishers to over-exploit the marine environment in an increasingly inefficient manner. Instead of preserving fish stock through sustainable practices and effective management, demand is growing for what are becoming rarer and more sought after fish. Thus, stocks that have already been exploited are now being pushed to extinction.

The report was released in conjunction with a photography exhibition The Deep: Life on the Deep Sea Floor at the WTO by Claire Nouvian ocean ambassador for the World Conservation Union (IUCN). Nouvian was joined by WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy and Carl Gustaf Lundin, head of IUCN’s global marine programme.

The report is available here toofewfish4


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