ROME, Feb 14 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Global profits
from fishing could grow by tens of billions of dollars if
depleted fish stocks were allowed to recover, bolstering the
livelihoods of millions of people and feeding the world's
growing population, the World Bank said on Tuesday.
Overfishing costs more than $80 billion a year in lost
revenues as dwindling supplies require extra effort to find and
catch increasingly scarce fish, according to the study by the
Millions of people depend on fish to survive, and fish will
be vital to feeding the world population that is predicted to
reach 9.7 billion people by 2050, the United Nations has said.
Due to overexploitation, however, trawlers must sail further
and longer to catch fish, leading to higher costs and lower
profits, the World Bank said in a study titled "Sunken Billions
If the supply of fish rose to its optimal level of 600
million tons, profits of the world's fisheries could jump to an
estimated $86 billion from $3 billion a year, according to the
"Giving the oceans a break pays off," said Laura Tuck, World
Bank vice president for sustainable development.
It would take five years to reach that healthy level if all
fishing were brought to a halt and 30 years if fishing were
reduced 5 percent a year, it said.
Some 30 percent of fish stocks were overfished in 2013, up
from 10 percent in 1974, the U.N. Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) has said.
Replenishing global stocks means more fish could be caught
with less effort, leading to increases in the average weight and
price of a catch, said Charlotte De Fontaubert, a co-author of
the study by the Washington-based World Bank, which conducts
research and makes loans in developing countries.
"Once the fisheries have recovered, it is going to cost
much less to go out and fish. They are going to catch much more
and much higher quality," she told the Thomson Reuters
De Fontaubert said the urgency of reducing fishing was
heightened by a ballooning demand for sea products, driven by
population growth and economic development, and global warming,
which scientists say is a threat to underwater life.
(Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Ellen
Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the
charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian
news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate
change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org)