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UBC fisheries economist Rashid Sumaila considers global fisheries are not living up to their economic potential. (Photo: Martin Dee, UBC)

Study shows how to increase worth of global fisheries

Click on the flag for more information about Canada CANADA
Friday, July 20, 2012, 22:30 (GMT + 9)

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

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 USD 54 billion each year, rather than losing USD 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."

Summary of resource rent (adjusted for subsidies) from current fisheries.We see that several countries are in red once the full cost of fishing, including harmful subsidies are taken into account. (Image: UBC)


Despite the USD 130 billion - USD 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 financial incentives 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.

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