The World Bank publishes updated figures on the economic loss caused by overfishing

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17 Feb

The World Bank has published an updated version of its 2009 study “The Sunken Billions: The Economic Justification for Fisheries Reform”. The new report, entitled “The Sunken Billions Revisited”, draws attention to the huge cost of overfishing again.

In 2009, the World Bank published a report about the economic performance of global fisheries. According to this first analysis, the annual lost revenues due to global fisheries mismanagement were estimated at 50 billion dollars. These figures have been adjusted as the new study reveals that better management could generate 83 billion dollars benefits every year. 

The report highlights that “The proportion of fisheries that are fully fished, overfished, depleted, or recovering from overfishing increased from just over 60 percent in the mid-1970s to about 75 percent in 2005 and to almost 90 percent in 20131. Reducing the global fishing effort would allow overexploited fish stocks to recover. Effects on the long term would be healthier stock, increased weight of catches and improved food security around the world. 

Commercial overfishing depletes the oceans and engenders economic losses. A comprehensive reform aimed at improving fisheries management should take into consideration all fisheries sectors, including recreational. Sustainable recreational fisheries contributes to the economy and in some cases is more profitable than commercial fishing. In this respect, the World Bank report of 2009 revealed that “For example, in the United States, the total national economic impact from commercial finfish fisheries is 28.5 per cent of the impact created by marine recreational fisheries (Southwick Associates 2006), and in the case of the striped bass resources, which are shared between the commercial and recreational sectors, anglers harvest 1.28 times more fish, yet produce over 12 times more economic activity as a result (Southwick Associates 2005).2

Another report published by the World Bank in 2012 recognises that “Global estimated expenditures by approximately 220 million recreational fishers are about $190 billion annually. Recreational fisheries can be of greater economic importance than commercial fisheries in some countries, and they contribute about $70 billion to global GDP3

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1. The Sunken Billions Revisited: Progress and Challenges in Global Marine Fisheries, Environment and Development, World Bank, 2017, p.1
2. The Sunken Billions: The Economic Justification for Fisheries Reform, World Bank, 2009, p. 44
3. Hidden harvest : the global contribution of capture fisheries, World Bank, 2012, p.XVIII

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