By Stephen Leahy
Dec 11 (IPS) – Catch less fish. Make more money.
Could this be the solution to the global overfishing crisis?
Australian economists writing in the current issue of Science magazine think so.
Reducing fish catches in the short term will bring fishers big profits later. And that profit potential may finally persuade an intransigent fishing industry to agree to lower catch limits, they say.
“Bigger stocks mean bigger bucks,” says co-author Quentin Grafton, research director at the Crawford School of Economics and Government at the Australian National University (ANU).
“Our results prove that the highest profits are made when fish numbers are allowed to rise beyond levels traditionally considered optimal,” Grafton said.
More than 75 percent of all fisheries are either fully exploited or heading for oblivion, according to a U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation report last year. The total global fish catch has stalled for decades despite far more sophisticated fish-finding technology — airplanes and satellites — and fish-catching equipment.
Current fish quotas set by fisheries managers in most region of the world assumed that harvesting costs are independent of, or proportional to, the available fish stocks, Grafton and colleagues said.
In reality, when fish are more plentiful and thus easier to catch, fishers don’t have to spend as much on fuel and other costs to fill their nets, resulting in higher profits. The researchers tested their theory on four different fisheries by plotting revenue and profit curves against fish biomass. In all cases, letting a stock rebuild was far more profitable than continuing to fish until little was left.
“Conservation promotes both larger fish stocks and higher profits,” said Tom Kompas, director of the International and Development Economics Programme at in ANU.
“The debate is no longer whether it is economically advantageous to reduce current harvests — it is — but how fast stocks should be rebuilt,” he said.
To read complete article click For Troubled Fishing Industry, Less Is More