A recent study suggests that it may not be too late to save the world's fish stocks from total depletion.
As global population continues to rise, the demand for fish has been absolutely skyrocketing in recent years. Despite worries that humans’ taste for fish could be rapidly depleting the world’s stocks, a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences lays out a plan to reduce our impact on the planet’s oceans in a significant way.
According to a report from the Washington Post, the study examined 4,713 different fisheries that make up about 78 percent of the fish brought in around the world each year. They were shocked to find that only a third of the worlds fish stocks were in decent biological shape. Unlike a large number of environmental studies, however, the recent paper laid out a plan to save the world’s fish from complete destruction.
The problem lies in the way the fishing industry is organized. While as a whole, the industry has a huge interest in keeping fish takings down to a sustainable level, individual fishermen have the incentive to catch as many fish as they can possibly fit on their boat to increase personal profits. If you have ever read the Tragedy of the Commons, the story will sound all too familiar.
The study suggested that by implementing and enforcing stricter regulations about catch limits and safe fishing practices, governments could realize a complete recovery of all of the world’s fisheries by 2050. In the scope of environmental issues currently facing the world, securing fish stocks seems like a no-brainer.
As it turns out practicing sustainable fishing will benefit everyone involved. Scientists estimate that by allowing fish stocks to replenish themselves, annual catch could grow by 16 million tons each year. Profits would rise as much as $53 billion, more people could be fed around the world, and more fishermen would have meaningful and secure employment.
The fate of the world’s fisheries lies in nations’ abilities to cooperate and effectively implement sustainable catch policies. Failure to do so would leave us in a precarious situation, and would make fresh fish that much harder to find.
The study, published in PNAS, can be found here.