For the first time in history, a new study has been released which evaluates the income of all direct and indirect industries linked to fishing.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Bio-economics and has been conducted by researchers at the University of British Columbia, claims that the fishing industry is currently generating USD 240 billion in annual revenues, a figure which was previously thought to be around USD 80 billion, as only income generated by landings were taken into account instead of the numerous supporting sectors which have been added to the equation in this instance.
Rashid Sumaila, director of the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia, explains how the study demonstrates a far more realistic value of global fisheries. If you consider what fish pump into an economy through processing, restaurants and even agriculture, it's much more than just the landed value, he said.
Researchers also calculated the revenues generated by most continents, the results of which claim that Asia was responsible for the overall majority of fish related income with a share of 55% (USD 130 billion). Included in the list was also North America, which contributed USD 30 billion.
The team also estimated how household incomes from those benefiting from the fishing industry amounted to USD 61 billion annually, with every USD 1 of landed fish supporting USD 0.75 of additional household income globally, reports The Canadian Press..
However the authors of the paper believe that decades of over-fishing have deprived fisheries of more billions of dollars in revenue. They claim that if fishing practices were more sustainable, that amount would be up to USD 36 billion higher as well as an additional 10 million tons in catches.
The report explains how new technological advancements have allowed vessels to travel further away from coastlines in search of fish, which has led to over half of the world's exclusive economic zones to be over-fished, consequently leading to catch losses (real-life landings of depleted marine animals compared to what could be sustainably caught).
Europe led the list in terms of highest catch losses, closely followed by both North America and Asia. Sumaila added, You're undermining the future, because when you're over-fishing, where do you go next?
The study also found that billions of dollars are being administered in the form of subsidies, which can often significantly increase the amount of people fishing and deplete certain species even further.
Global subsidies amounted to roughly USD 7 billion in 2003, with the vast majority being allocated for fuel, boat-building and other uses which the researchers believe can have a significant impact on over-fishing, reports The Canadian Press.
Taxpayer money is directly contributing to the decline of worldwide fish stocks, Sumaila continues. Maintaining healthy fisheries makes good economic sense, while over-fishing is clearly bad for business.
Sumaila said governments should be channelling funds, not into subsidizing growth in the industry, but using them to promote marine protected areas and license buybacks.
By Brian Loubet Jambert - FIS