Sunday, October 12, 2008

United Nations and World Bank: weigh in on the future of commercial fisheries

One of the ways to get commercial interests to move in more eco-friendly directions is to appeal to base instincts. In this case, economic viability. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO, part of the United Nations), in conjunction with the World Bank, has released an assessment of marine fisheries and, as one might suspect, it shows a massive loss of revenue due to a decline in catch. (Read the press release.)

But poor management is as much to blame as is declining seafood populations. Commercial fisheries are plagued by over-capacity and over-efficiency - too many boats and advanced fishing techniques. The rising cost of fuel might be a nail in the coffin, but the problems were brewing long before fuel became an issue. Basic business economics says when you have a limited market (or resource, as in the case of seafood) and you expand operations, at some point the rate of revenue will decline. How many businesses have we seen become victims of expansion beyond what the market can bear? From computer chips to coffee shops.

The commercial fishing industry must address the need to scale back its operations to become more efficient - which will have a positive effect on seafood populations and can actually prevent market prices for seafood from skyrocketing. But it requires a shift in the industry, moving and retraining manpower and resources into other related areas, such as aquaculture/aquafarming.

(Read the complete report.)

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