Monday, October 29, 2012

50% in 10 years: a new global collaboration to restore fisheries

Hal Hamilton in the Guardian (UK): One billion people in the world depend upon fish for their primary protein. This supply is vulnerable from overfishing and ocean pollution, but wild fisheries can be restored to health.

Representatives of 30 organisations are designing a global collaboration to bring 50% of fish and fisheries within sustainable management in 10 years. Economists at the World Bank estimate that the benefits of reform would add at least $20bn (£12.45bn) annually to the global economy.

Many major retailers have sustainable seafood programmes and frequently pledge that by a certain date some or all of their seafood cases will be filled with products that are certified sustainable. But will they achieve this goal? A fish buyer for one of the world's largest retailers simply told me: "It's not going to happen."

Fisheries that have been certified over the last 10 years are primarily those fisheries that were already best managed before. The next wave of fishery improvement to feed demand in rich countries is not keeping up, and as more and more consumers demand sustainable products, the gap between supply and demand will grow. The hopeful news is that, with the right interventions, ocean and fishery health can rebound.

The Prince of Wales' International Sustainability Unit recently commissioned a set of 50 global case studies and among the lessons is one clear message: we know what to do in order to manage our ocean resources wisely, and good management pays. World Bank economists estimate an average 11% return on investment from fishery improvement....

Seine net fishing in the Haor in Bangladesh, shot by Balaram Mahalder, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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