Posted by: Bob Payne | November 11, 2011

Global fisheries losses at the exclusive economic zone level, 1950 to present

Up to one-third of commercial fishery stocks may be overfished at present. By analyzing catch trends and applying an empirical relationship derived from stock assessments, this article tracks the geographic spread of overfishing at the country level in terms of lost catch and lost revenue, from the start of industrialized fishing in 1950–2004. The results tell a cautionary tale of serial depletion to meet the ever-rising demand for fish. Examining country losses with respect to fishery management reveals that overcapacity and excess fishing effort are widespread, but also that recent trends towards sustainability can stabilize or reverse losses (e.g. for Norway, Iceland, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand). Global trade effectively masks the successive depletion of stocks, so that without decisive action to reduce fishing effort, many more stocks will suffer and undernourishment impacts for the major exporting, food-deficit nations will only magnify.

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