Study calls for fishing ban across Europe to rebuild stocks
by Daniel Mason
Sustainable fish stocks and vast profits could be achieved by calling a temporary suspension to the catching of some of Europe's overfished species, a London-based think-tank has claimed today. In its report No Catch Investment, the New Economics Foundation argues that the costs of allowing fish stocks to recover are "vastly overwhelmed" by the benefits.
It said a moratorium on catching 49 overfished stocks, starting in January 2013, could see the fish supply overtake its current levels within four years. Stocks of Icelandic cod, hake, mackerel and whiting would be able to fully recover in five years, while North Sea cod could be restored in a decade.
This would be achieved through private investment of £9.16bn to maintain fishermen's incomes and their vessels – and lead to profits of £4.43bn by 2023. When stocks were fully restored and sustainable fishing resumed the total value of landings would nearly triple and generate £14.62bn of revenue each year, according to the research. The NEF said that by 2052 the returns would be £14 for every £1 invested.
Aniol Esteban, head of environmental economics at the think-tank, said the figures spoke for themselves and the idea represented a "no-catch investment that offers huge financial returns". He added: "Continuing overfishing is bad for European economies. Restoring fish stocks means more jobs, more income for coastal communities, and less industry reliance on subsidies from taxpayers. It makes perfect economic and environmental sense."
Negotiations over the reform of the European Union's common fisheries policy – which has been criticised for failing to protect fish stocks and the wider industry – are currently underway. The NEF report calls for "ambitious" changes that allow fisheries to operate with "well-managed healthy fish stocks" and without public subsidies.
The study looked at 51 out of the 150 commercial fish stocks in European waters, of which 49 were overfished. Rupert Crilly, a researcher at NEF and lead author of the report, said: "Overfishing is a serious problem, currently affecting the majority of EU stocks. For too long the focus has been on the short-term cost of a solution, rather than the economic, environmental and social benefits of proper stock management.
"In determining the initial cost of rebuilding fish stocks, we see that an end to overfishing in EU waters is affordable as well as desirable. Policy-makers must now take action to ensure healthy, sustainable fish stocks for this and future generations."
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This study is based on fundamentally the wrong approach. It relates investment to production value instead of to profits. This is not 'new economics', but wrong bookkeeping. Relating to profits would lead to an entirely different and much less positive result.
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