New Study Puts Price Tag on Overfishing

Photos/The PEW Charitable Trusts

Because of decades of overfishing—catching fish faster than they can reproduce—in 2009, commercial fishermen in New England who targeted species such as cod, flounder, halibut and other bottom-dwelling groundfish lost at least $149 million and realized just 21 percent of potential revenues. So claims a new report by Ecotrust, a provider of marine social and economic research, and commissioned by the Pew Environmental Group. The additional income could have been earned if fish populations had been at healthy levels, say the report’s authors.

The Hidden Cost of Overfishing to Commercial Fishermen: A 2009 Snapshot of Lost Revenues examines the impact of chronic overfishing by calculating the earnings lost by commercial fishermen due to declines in fish populations. The calculated losses represent a fraction of the total cost of overfishing, according to the report.

The report concludes that the failure to conserve the fish populations on which fishermen and the seafood economy depend will perpetuate future losses. But implementing firm catch limits, (The Economic Case for a New Approach to Fisheries Management in New England) based on science, that end and prevent overfishing, will benefit fishermen for generations.

The Full Report and Executive Summary can be read here:

PEW Environment Report

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