From: Allan Dowd, Reuters
Published September 15, 2010 06:05 AM

World pays high price for overfishing

Decades of overfishing have deprived the food industry of billions of dollars in revenue and the world of fish that could have helped feed undernourished countries, according to a series of studies released on Tuesday.

The Canadian, U.S. and British researchers behind the studies also said that overfishing is often the result of government subsidies that would have been better spent conserving fish stocks.


Fisheries contribute $225 billion to $240 billion to the world economy annually, but if fishing practices were more sustainable, that amount would be up to $36 billion higher, according to the four papers published in the Journal of Bioeconomics.

The researchers said the data demonstrate that the reasons for protecting world's ocean fish stocks from unsustainable fishing are more than just biological.

"Maintaining healthy fisheries makes good economic sense, while overfishing is clearly bad business," said Rashid Sumaila, an economist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, who led the research.

The researchers estimated that from 1950 to 2004, 36 to 53 percent of the fish stocks in more than half the exclusive economic zones in the world's oceans were overfished, with up to 10 million tonnes of fish catch now lost.

They said many governments underestimate the financial impact of overfishing, such as the affect on related industries, and, as a result, they have less incentive to protect fish stocks.

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