A new report by the World Bank confirms that overexploitation is not a good strategy to manage a renewable natural resource like fish stocks, for steady profits, reliable jobs and long-term growth.
The study, The Sunken Billions Revisited: Progress and Challenges in Global Marine Fisheries (Revision of The Sunken Billions: The Economic Justification for Fisheries Reform) indicates that for global fisheries as a whole, about USD 83 billion were lost in 2012, compared to a more optimal scenario, largely because of overfishing.
The report, which uses a bio-economic model developed by Professor Ragnar Arnason of the University of Iceland, explicitly quantifies the potential economic benefit lost in global marine fisheries.
The World Bank, stressed that the organization together with partners have worked with numerous countries to help put fisheries on a more sustainable.
Some examples of its actions include the case of the Peruvian anchovy, which supplies fish oil rich in omega-3 and fishmeal for livestock and aquaculture around the world.
Since farmed fish now accounts for more than half of all seafood production, the abundance of the anchoveta is critical for food security.
In 2009, the Bank partnered with the Government of Peru through a series of environmental development policy loans to ensure the sustainability of anchovy resources, strengthen the management of the sector and reduce overcapacity in the fishing fleet, while easing the transition of people employed in the sector into other economic activities.
In Morocco, the institution has supported the country’s 'green growth' vision by providing financing in the form of development policy loans, investment projects, and technical assistance, as well as tools to fight illegal fishing (IUU).
The World Bank's report also highlights that fisheries in the Western and Central Pacific provide over half of the world’s tuna, a prized source of protein, worth some USD 5.8 billion per year at first sale. However, tuna are migratory species and the fate of the stock depends on actions taken by a number of countries and foreign vessels, throughout their biological range.
Therefore, in the purse seine tuna fishery - the region’s largest tuna fishery in volume -, the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) introduced the Vessel Day Scheme in 2010, to allow them to cooperate to limit fishing within sustainable levels across their waters, and to increase jointly the access fees each charged for access by distant water fishing nations.
In this context, the World Bank, with support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), is investing in capacity building and technology to strengthen the sustainable management of fisheries and particularly the next generation of the vessel day scheme.
The financial institution noted that it is also empowering small-scale fishers to fight illegal fishing in West Africa.
The Bank’s West Africa Regional Fisheries Program (WARFP), launched in 2010, aims to increase the economic contribution of marine resources through strengthened fisheries management and governance, reduced illegal fishing, and increased local value added to fish products.
With regard to the situation in Sultanate of Oman, the fishing sector, which is mostly artisanal, is now lagging behind.
Oman requested the Bank’s help in devising a plan that would make the sector a viable engine of growth and employment, while improving the livelihoods of an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 individuals who depend on fishing and related activities.
The technical assistance, provided in the form of reimbursable advisory services, brought international best practices and stakeholders at all levels, from ministers to fishers to tribal elders to build a shared vision of revitalized fisheries.
According to the Bank's report, allowing fish stocks to bounce back to healthier levels would cut losses and create revenue for long-term growth, while helping fisheries adapt to climate change and meet global demand for seafood.