UK-based New Economic Foundation (NEF) recently issued a report about the economic losses incurred due to overfishing. The report entitled Jobs Lost at Sea found that depletion of fish stocks in Europe contributes to a loss of a large number of jobs and high economic losses, estimated at 100,000 jobs and £2.7 billion respectively.
Rectifying the problem has both environmental and economic benefits. The report estimates that the benefits of rebuilding even 43 European stocks, out of more than 150 would result in tremendous gains.
- Restoring these 43 stocks to their maximum sustainable yield (MSY) would generate 3.53 million tonnes of additional landings; enough to meet the annual demand of fish for almost 160 million EU citizens.
- Value of restoring fish stocks is worth £2.7 billion (€3.2 billion) per year to all countries. It is worth £1.5 billion (€1.8 billion) per year to the EU27, or almost three times its annual fishing subsidies.
- Value of restoring these fish stocks could support 100,790 new jobs, around 83,000 to the EU27 (31% more than current employment in the EU fishing sector).
- Restoring fish stocks could increase catch values from these stocks by 81% for the EU27, and more than double for most countries, including the UK (+109%) and Germany (+116%).
- Worst affected fish are cod (lost 970,000 tonnes/yr), haddock (lost 378,000 tonnes/yr), herring (lost 854,000 tonnes/yr)and whiting(lost 834,000 tonnes/yr).
Apart from economic losses, overfishing also means that the EU is getting much less out of its fish stocks than if they were sustainably managed. NEF also analysed that, “the difference between the current size of catches compared with their potential (‘maximum sustainable yield’) to highlight the scale of that overfishing has hijacked revenues and employment.”
Rupert Crilly, author of the report and Environmental Economics researcher said:
“Overfishing is bad for the economy. With the stroke of a pen, European fisheries ministers are wiping out millions of pounds and thousands of jobs each year by allowing overfishing to continue. A third of the UK population’s annual fish consumption could be provided by just the UK’s share of restoring these fish stocks. The industry could employ an extra 46 per cent more people. Over £400 million could be invested in coastal communities every year, 24 times the annual subsidy the UK receives precisely to mitigate the costs of overfishing. “Restoring fish stocks is within politicians’ power. And in the current economic climate the stakes are higher than ever.”
Overfishing is not just a problem for the EU but it is a cause for concern all over the world and clear economic incentives to protect the world’s fish stocks are essential to the well-being of fisheries.
Image Credit: Fishing boats in Greece. Adamantios, Wikimedia Commons