Jack fish Vanua Levu Fiji (c) Brent Stirton Getty Images WWF
In Rome on Monday, the FAO released its 2012 State of the World’s Fisheries and Aquaculture report (SOFIA). The report states that, in 2009, 57% of marine fisheries were fully exploited, while 30% of all marine stocks were overexploited. Environmental advocacy groups such as World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, and Oceana have urged for governmental enforcement of sustainable fishing practices and concurrent reduction of fishing fleets via the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which is to be amended this year.
Alfred Schumm, leader of WWF’s global Smart Fishing Initiative, stated, “With such dependency on fish meeting a rapidly growing population, we simply cannot sustain a situation where 87 per cent of global marine fisheries are at or above full exploitation…Using the precautionary approach, a holistic suite of ecosystem- and science based measures must be adopted if we are to realise the clear economic, environmental and social benefits of sustainably managed fisheries.” Here are a few additional key takeaways from the 2012 SOFIA report (statistics from pages cited):
- In 2009, fish made up roughly 16.6% of the world population’s intake of animal protein and 6.5% of all protein consumed. Globally, fish provides about 3.0 billion people with almost 20% of their intake of animal protein, and 4.3 billion people with about 15% of such protein (5).
- Fisheries-related employment supported the livelihoods of 10-12% of the world’s population (660 to 820 million people) in 2010 (10).
- Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and related activities (often encouraged by corrupt practices) threaten efforts to secure long-term sustainable fisheries and promote healthier and more robust ecosystems (18).
- There is an urgent need for support of small-scale fisheries (357 million people are directly affected by small-scale fisheries, and they employ more than 90% of the world’s capture fishers (90)), and to create sustainable fisheries that are socially, politically, economically viable.