A recent study, led by Christopher Costello, has attempted to provide insight into the status of “unassessed” fisheries from across the globe. By compiling the available data for such stocks, which comprise 80% of the world’s fisheries, the paper underlines the precarious state of the world’s fisheries and the benefits of rebuilding fish populations.
Costello argues that managing fish stocks so that they achieve Bmsy levels would have significant benefits, given that 64% of unassessed stocks could provide increased sustainable harvest if rebuilt. Their results suggest that global fishery recovery would simultaneously create an increase in both abundance (56%) and fishery yields (8%-40%), with these benefits primarily benefiting regions of the world facing food security challenges. This need is describe as pressing given the projected “increase….in human populations and wealth in the coming decades.”
According to the paper, with both small and large stocks continuing to decline in unassessed fisheries, the need to manage stocks in a sustainable manner would have both socio-economic and environmental benefits.
They pinpoint small unassessed fisheries as those being in the worst condition. However, they emphasise that recent advances in data poor assessment could be coupled with management instruments such as territorial user right fisheries (TURFs), no-take reserves and co-management approaches to achieve improvements in the status of fish stocks.