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.
Ex-vessel fish prices are essential for comprehensive fisheries management and socioeconomic analyses for fisheries science. In this paper, we reconstructed a global ex-vessel price database with the following areas of improvement: (1) compiling reported prices explicitly listed as “for reduction to fishmeal and fish oil” to estimate prices separately for catches destined for fishmeal and fish oil production, and other non-direct human consumption purposes; (2) including 95% confidence limit estimates for each price estimation; and (3) increasing the number of input data and the number of price estimates to match the reconstructed Sea Around Us catch database. Our primary focus was to address this first area of improvement as ex-vessel prices for catches destined for non-direct human consumption purposes were substantially overestimated, notably in countries with large reduction fisheries. For example in Peru, 2010 landed values were estimated as 3.8 billion real 2010 USD when using separate prices for reduction fisheries, compared with 5.8 billion using previous methods with only one price for all end-products. This update of the price database has significant global and country-specific impacts on fisheries price and landed value trends over time.