Quantcast

Unlocking the Potential of Sustainable Fishing

Food

We can reverse overfishing and restore the ocean’s fisheries in our lifetimes. After years of headlines about the impending doom of wild fisheries, that statement may be hard to believe, but new research and our experience with fishermen around the world show me that it is possible.

Scientists and economists at the University of California Santa Barbara, the University of Washington and Environmental Defense Fund spent the last two years developing the most comprehensive database on fisheries ever assembled. Using that, we were able to develop a model to see that with the right fishing approaches in place, we can increase the number of fish in the water, the amount of food the oceans produce and at the same time increase the incomes of the world’s 38 million fishermen and their families.

The report, which was published last week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows how secure fishing rights can turn our oceans around in a matter of years. In just 10 years with fishing rights in place, three-quarters of the world’s fisheries can achieve population and recovery goals, with the number jumping to 98 percent by 2050.

Smart Fishing Policies Boost Fish Populations

We have a clear choice: compared to doing nothing, implementing fishing rights can double the amount of fish in the ocean by 2050, increase profits for fishermen by 204 percent and increase the amount of fish we can catch enough to provide a significant protein source for an additional half a billion people. The benefits will be felt the most for the thousands of small-scale community fisheries around the world where millions of fishermen and their families depend on the ocean for food and livelihoods.

Implementing reforms, like secure fishing rights, is going to be critical to providing the combined benefits of increased fish populations, profits and food production.

From this research and our experience, the path is clear: give fishermen secure fishing rights so they can control and protect their future. Countries from the U.S. to Belize to Namibia are leading a turnaround by implementing secure fishing rights and realizing benefits for people and the oceans.

Localized reforms were so successful in parts of Belize, in fact, that the country adopted the fishing rights approach nationwide. Over the past decade overfishing in the U.S. has dropped to an all-time low thanks to a secure fishing rights program in federal waters known as catch shares. This, in turn, has had a direct impact on local economies: In the past three years fishing industry jobs in the U.S. have increased 31 percent and fishermen revenues by 44 percent.

The stakes are big. With a projected 9.5 billion people competing for more food from maxed out resources in the coming decades, finding sustainable ways to increase food production has become critical.

With a clear roadmap showing how to recover fisheries, we can honestly say: We can have our fish and eat them too.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Protecting the Earth Is Not a Crime

Can Cuba Supply America’s Growing Appetite for Organic Food?

Tigers Declared Extinct in Cambodia

10 Inspiring Films on Food + Farming: Who Do You Think Should Win the People’s Choice Award?

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Simon Coghlan and Kobi Leins

A remarkable combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and biology has produced the world's first "living robots."

Read More
Malaysian Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin (front 2nd L) and officials inspect a container containing plastic waste shipment on Jan. 20, 2020 before sending back to the countries of origin. AFP via Getty Images

The Southeast Asian country Malaysia has sent 150 shipping containers packed with plastic waste back to 13 wealthy countries, putting the world on notice that it will not be the world's garbage dump, as CNN reported. The countries receiving their trash back include the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Canada.

Read More
Sponsored
Trump leaves after delivering a speech at the Congress Centre during the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos on Jan. 21, 2020. JIM WATSON / AFP via Getty Images

U.S. President Donald Trump dismissed the concerns of environmental activists as "pessimism" in a speech to political and business leaders at the start of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on Tuesday.

Read More

Warning: The video above may be upsetting to viewers.

An amusement park in China came under fire on social media this weekend for forcing a pig off a 230 foot-high bungee tower.

Read More
Participants at the tree-planting event in Ankazobe district, Madagascar, on Jan. 19. Valisoa Rasolofomboahangy / Mongabay

By Malavika Vyawahare, Valisoa Rasolofomboahangy

Madagascar has embarked on its most ambitious tree-planting drive yet, aiming to plant 60 million trees in the coming months. The island nation celebrates 60 years of independence this year, and the start of the planting campaign on Jan. 19 marked one year since the inauguration of President Andry Rajoelina, who has promised to restore Madagascar's lost forests.

Read More