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July 9, 2012

State of the World Fisheries gets a bad report card


Every two years, the FAO releases a report called the State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture, and every two years, those of us who follow the issue are disappointed by dismal statistics. This year, 87% of evaluated stocks were fully or over-exploited, up 2% from the last FAO report.

Our board member Dr. Daniel Pauly, one of the leading fisheries scientist in the world, noted that “not only does FAO summarize the situation of the world marine fisheries as ‘worsening’, but the bright spots, where strict restrictions have allowed stocks to recover are the same few countries (notably the USA and Australia) as in the last assessment, their ‘virtuous’ behavior apparently having found few imitators”.

The report goes on to state that the FAO considers it unlikely, given the amount of over-exploited stocks, that the international commitment to exploit all stocks at levels that can produce Maximum Sustainable Yield by 2015, will be met. It is shocking that with numbers such as these, our decision makers aren’t scrambling to do everything in their power to get us back on track towards sustainable fisheries.

Our Executive Director, Xavier Pastor, had this to say: “How many more of these reports do world leaders and decision makers need to see? The state of European seas is nothing short of shameful. From the Mediterranean to the Atlantic and the Baltic, fish stocks have been systematically overfished, scientific advice has been ignored and habitats are being destroyed. These are simple facts – and yet over and over we see our decision makers unwilling to be brave enough to do the right thing.” 

Reports like these spur us to continue doing what we do – because there is a way to fix this, we just need our decision makers to be strong enough to make the tough calls.