New research has revealed that global wild marine catch in the Tropics region, especially South East Asia, has risen dramatically over the last three decades, raising issues on the sustainability of the practice.
The study, Wild Marine Catch, says that the Tropics accounted for around two million tonnes of the wild marine catch in 1950 (12%) but this increased to 32 million tonnes in 2010 (42%). It makes it clear that most of the fisheries are currently overexploited and are likely to collapse soon.
The increase is particularly evident in South East Asia. In the region catch increased from less than one million tonnes in 1950 to more than 18 million tonnes in 2010. Much of the fish is likely to end up as supply feed to seafood farms, as unveiled by a past investigation in Thailand.
The report notes that the most damaged fisheries are found in low-income countries with growing populations, which are those less subjected to strict regulation and checks.
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The report noted, “Small-scale fisheries account for more than half of the global fish catch and employ more than 90% of the world’s 35 million capture fishers.
“One reason for the declining marine catch is the ‘tragedy of the commons’ where, in the absence of clearly defined property rights, anyone with access to a shared resource has an interest in overexploiting it, and it is in no individuals interest alone to maintain it. This can lead to significant over capacity as fishers have incentives to invest in larger and more modern vessels to ensure larger individual shares.”
The study states that with proper management, aimed at restoring habitats and promoting sustainable fisheries, ecosystems could be restored, but adds that given projections for population growth, this would be a key challenge.
Photo: Roger Braunstein via flickr