Illicit trade in marine fish catch and its effects on ecosystems and people worldwide

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing is widespread; it is therefore likely that illicit trade in marine fish catch is also common worldwide. We combine ecological-economic databases to estimate the magnitude of illicit trade in marine fish catch and its impacts on people. Globally, between 8 and 14 million metric tons of unreported catches are potentially traded illicitly yearly, suggesting gross revenues of US$9 to US$17 billion associated with these catches. Estimated loss in annual economic impact due to the diversion of fish from the legitimate trade system is US$26 to US$50 billion, while losses to countries’ tax revenues are between US$2 and US$4 billion. Country-by-country estimates of these losses are provided in the Supplementary Materials. We find substantial likely economic effects of illicit trade in marine fish catch, suggesting that bold policies and actions by both public and private actors are needed to curb this illicit trade.

Closing the high seas to fisheries: Possible impacts on aquaculture

Consumption of seafood has increased steadily over the past several decades and this trend is expected to continue with projected increases in global population and affluence. Wild capture fisheries catches have likely reached their peak, and therefore any significant increase in future fish supply is expected to come primarily from aquaculture. However, aquaculture continues to rely on wild stocks by using fishmeal to support culture of fed species. Recently, concerns regarding wild fish populations have led to calls for the closure of the high seas (i.e., international waters) to fishing. Such a policy would decrease marine fish catch in the short term while potentially increasing future catch. Here, we assess the potential impacts of closing the high seas to fishing on marine fish catch that goes to reduction into fishmeal. We quantify the potential effects of these changes on the price of fishmeal and profitability of the global aquaculture industry. Not surprisingly, we find a stronger effect of closing the high seas to fishing for high-value carnivorous species such as shrimp and salmonids. Overall, however, our study suggests that the impact of closing the high seas to fishing on aquaculture is likely to be insignificant.

Subsidizing extinction?

In 2010 world governments agreed to eliminate, phase out or reform incentives that harm biodiversity by 2020. Yet few governments have even identified such incentives, never mind taking action on them. While some subsidies are well studied, such as in fisheries and fossil fuel production, there is an urgent need for the conservation community to study the potential effects a broader array of subsidies have on biodiversity. In addition, we need a better understanding of who benefits from these subsidies. We term this pursuit ‘subsidy accountability’, which is crucial but challenging work crossing disciplines and government ministries. It requires ecologists, forensic accountants, and policy wonks, calculating and forecasting the positive and negative effects of subsidies and their elimination on biodiversity and vulnerable human populations. The Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services recently concluded that action on biodiversity loss requires transformative economic change; true action on subsidies is one step towards such change.

Input versus output controls as instruments for fisheries management with a focus on Mediterranean fisheries

Article 4 of EU Regulation 1380/2013 on the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) define ‘technical measure’ as “a measure that regulates the composition of catches by species and size and the impacts on components of the ecosystems resulting from fishing activities by establishing conditions for the use and structure of fishing gear and restrictions on access to fishing areas.” Thus, these are a set of rules that govern where, when and how fishing can take place.

Conservation, contraception and controversy: Supporting human rights to enable sustainable fisheries in Madagascar

Environmental NGOs are increasingly called upon to respect human rights when undertaking conservation programs. Evaluating a family planning program running alongside marine management measures in Madagascar, we find that family planning services provided by an environmental NGO can support women’s reproductive rights.

Towards a sustainable and equitable blue economy

The global rush to develop the ‘blue economy’ risks harming both the marine environment and human wellbeing. Bold policies and actions are urgently needed. We identify five priorities to chart a course towards an environmentally sustainable and socially equitable blue economy.

Ecosystem-based management can contribute to cooperation in transboundary fisheries: The case of pacific sardine

Transboundary fish stocks complicate sustainable fishing strategies, particularly when stakeholders have diverse objectives and regulatory and governance frameworks. Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax) in the California Current is shared by up to three fishing nations— Canada, the United States, and Mexico—and climate-driven abundance and distribution dynamics can complicate cooperative fisheries, leading to overfishing. This study builds on previous analyses by integrating ecosystem linkages into a game theory model of transboundary sardine fisheries under various climate scenarios.

Updated estimates and analysis of global fisheries subsidies

The period from 2019 to 2020 is critical in determining whether the World Trade Organization (WTO), tasked with eliminating capacity-enhancing fisheries subsidies, can deliver to the world an agreement that will discipline subsidies that lead to overfishing. Here, following extensive data collection efforts, we present an update of the current scope, amount and analysis of the level of subsidisation of the fisheries sector worldwide.

Eight urgent, fundamental and simultaneous steps needed to restore ocean health, and the consequences for humanity and the planet of inaction or delay

The ocean crisis is urgent and central to human wellbeing and life on Earth; past and current activities are damaging the planet’s main life support system for future generations. We are witnessing an increase in ocean heat, disturbance, acidification, bio‐invasions and nutrients, and reducing oxygen levels. Several of these act like ratchets: once detrimental or negative changes have occurred, they may lock in place and may not be reversible, especially at gross ecological and ocean process scales.

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