Establishing company level fishing revenue and profit losses from fisheries: A bottom-up approach

A third of global fish stocks are overexploited and many are economically underperforming, resulting in potential unrealized net economic benefits of USD 51 to 83 billion annually. However, this aggregate view, while useful for global policy discussion, may obscure the view for those actors who engage at a regional level. Therefore, we develop a method to associate large companies with their fishing operations and evaluate the biological sustainability of these operations. We link current fish biomass levels and landings to the revenue streams of the companies under study to compute potentially unrealized fisheries revenues and profits at the level of individual firms. We illustrate our method using two case studies: anchoveta (Engraulis ringens; Engraulidae) in Peru and menhaden in the USA (Brevoortia patronus and B. tyrannus;Clupeidae). We demonstrate that both these fisheries could potentially increase their revenues compared to the current levels of exploitation. We estimate the net but unrealized fishery benefits for the companies under question. This information could be useful to investors and business owners who might want to be aware of the actual fisheries performance options of the companies they invest in.

The economics of fishing the high seas

While the ecological impacts of fishing the waters beyond national jurisdiction (the “high seas”) have been widely studied, the economic rationale is more difficult to ascertain because of scarce data on the costs and revenues of the fleets that fish there. Newly compiled satellite data and machine learning now allow us to track individual fishing vessels on the high seas in near real time. These technological advances help us quantify high-seas fishing effort, costs, and benefits, and assess whether, where, and when high-seas fishing makes economic sense. We characterize the global high-seas fishing fleet and report the economic benefits of fishing the high seas globally, nationally, and at the scale of individual fleets. Our results suggest that fishing at the current scale is enabled by large government subsidies, without which as much as 54% of the present high-seas fishing grounds would be unprofitable at current fishing rates. The patterns of fishing profitability vary widely between countries, types of fishing, and distance to port. Deep-sea bottom trawling often produces net economic benefits only thanks to subsidies, and much fishing by the world’s largest fishing fleets would largely be unprofitable without subsidies and low labor costs. These results support recent calls for subsidy and fishery management reforms on the high seas.

A simple application of bioeconomics to fisheries subsidies.

(book chapter in Advances in Fisheries Bioeconomics) The practice by governments of providing financial support, whether directly or indirectly, to the fishing sector is known as fisheries subsidies. Since a backof-the-envelope calculation by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) revealed that the total amount of fisheries subsidies paid by maritime countries globally could be over US$50 billion annually in the early 1990s, eliminating harmful fisheries subsidies has become a central issue in the quest to achieve sustainable fisheries worldwide. It is, however, worth noting that the issue of fisheries subsidies and its effects on overfishing is not new. Adam Smith (1970) himself expressed concerns about fisheries subsidies in his famous book On the Wealth of Nations:

The [subsidy] to the white-herring fishery is a tonnage bounty; and is proportioned to the [weight] of the ship, not to her diligence or success in the fishery; and it has, I am afraid, been too common for vessels to fit out for the sole purpose of catching, not the fish, but the bounty.

Investments to reverse biodiversity loss are economically beneficial

Reversing biodiversity loss by 2020 is the objective of the 193 countries that are party to the 43 global Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). In this context, the Aichi Biodiversity 44 Targets 2020 were agreed upon by the CBD in Nagoya, Japan in 2010 and this was followed 45 by asking a high-level panel to make an assessment of the financial resources needed to 46 achieve these targets globally. First, we review the literature on the costs and benefits of 47 meeting the Aichi Targets.

On governance in fisheries in Senegal: from top-down control to co-management.

The trans-disciplinary thematic areas of oceans management and policy require stocktaking of the state of knowledge on ecosystem services being derived from coastal and marine areas. Recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially Goals 14 and 15 explicitly focus on this. This Handbook brings together a carefully chosen set of world-class contributions from ecology, economics, and other development science and attempts to provide policy relevant scientific information on ecosystem services from marine and coastal ecosystems, nuances of economic valuation, relevant legal and sociological response policies for effective management of marine areas for enhanced human well being. The contributors focus on the possible nexus of science-society and science-policy with the objective of informing on decision makers of the governmental agencies, business and industry and civil society in general with respect to sustainable management of Oceans. Chapter in Handbook on the Economics and Management of Sustainable Oceans

Impact of high seas closure on food security in low income fish dependent countries.

We investigate how high seas closure will affect the availability of commonly consumed food fish in 46 fish reliant, and/or low income countries. Domestic consumption of straddling fish species (fish that would be affected by high seas closure) occurred in 54% of the assessed countries. The majority (70%) of countries were projected to experience net catch gains following high seas closure. However, countries with projected catch gains and that also consumed the straddling fish species domestically made up only 37% of the assessed countries. In contrast, much fewer countries (25%) were projected to incur net losses from high seas closure, and of these, straddling species were used domestically in less than half (45%) of the countries. Our findings suggest that, given the current consumption patterns of straddling species, high seas closure may only directly benefit the supply of domestically consumed food fish in a small number of fish reliant and/or low income countries.