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Overfishing Costs Southeast and Gulf Regions Millions Per Year

Overfishing Costs Southeast and Gulf Regions Millions Per Year

Note: This is a guest post from Lee Crockett, Director of U.S. Fisheries Campaigns at the Pew Environment Group.

Thereís an old saying that a penny saved is a penny earned. This sound financial advice is equally true for management of U.S. ocean fish resources. As Iíve said before, conserving our ocean fish populations is a prudent economic investment. The converse is also true: Overfishing is bad economic policy.

Last year, Ecotrust, an Oregon-based economic public policy organization, released a study that estimated that in 2009, commercial fishermen in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico targeting depleted fish populations lost $15.2 million because of decades of overfishing.

Now, in a new report commissioned by the Pew Environment Group, Ecotrust has analyzed the recreational fishing sectorís economic losses associated with historic overfishing, focusing on severely depleted species in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

Annual economic losses were calculated by examining recent average annual trip expenditures directly related to recreational fishing for the period 2005 to 2009 and comparing them with potential expenditures if the fish populations had been at safe levels. In addition to estimating direct losses, Ecotrust also calculated losses to the broader economy, including spending at hotels, restaurants, wholesale businesses that supply the recreational fishing industry, and other downstream businesses. (Note: The results of the two studies cannot be compared, because the methodologies are fundamentally different.)

2012-09-04-EcotrustChart.jpg

The short-term economic losses to fishermen from management regulations implemented to restore depleted fish populations, often appear in press coverage. But Ecotrustís study shows the other side: the broader economic cost of mismanagement of our ocean fish resources. And as the chart above illustrates, direct losses have a ripple effect on businesses such as restaurants and hotels that benefit from recreational fishing. For example, reduced fishing trips for South Atlantic black sea bass, a species that has experienced decades of overfishing, resulted in an average direct annual loss of nearly $53 million and a whopping $138 million in broader losses.

The good news is that these losses need not be permanent. With effective management that prevents overfishing, depleted fish populations can be rebuilt, adding tens of millions of dollars to local economies. Ecotrustís study makes a strong economic case for the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Actís conservation provisions, which prohibit overfishing and require rebuilding of depleted species.

Conserving our valuable fish populations is like saving money in an interest-bearing account. A fish saved is much more than a penny earned. As fish populations rebuild, they deliver jobs and income, support anglers, boost commercial fisheries and improve the health of ecosystems in the South Atlantic and Gulf regions that draw fishermen, divers and tourists from around the world.

 

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61 comments

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10:36AM PST on Dec 9, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

11:52AM PDT on Sep 11, 2012

In a country that wastes so much food, is it any wonder that we are quickly using up/depleting our natural resources and that the earth can not contine to supply us with never ending food?

2:41AM PDT on Sep 10, 2012

"The best solution for the health of the oceans would be for some nation to commission a fleet of submarines to sink all commercial fishing boat monstrosities. All those greedy factory ships are insanely destructive to the ocean. I could give a flying leap if every greedy factory fisherman in the world (along with the idiots who choke the world's oceans with plastic and toxins) were sunk with torpedoes and then drowned or starved to death."

QFT, Mark D
The bycatch factor of gillnets and longlines is chilling. Add the plastic soup in the oceans, and you have a very sick sea. For sea turtles, add poaching and developing beaches (nesting areas). A Queensland study showed that 36% of the turtles died from eating plastic http://www.whatsontianjin.com/news-781-36-of-dead-turtles-killed-by-marine-rubbish-queensland-study.html

9:13PM PDT on Sep 9, 2012

@Mark D. I noticed that you pointed out " All those greedy factory ships are insanely destructive to the ocean, especially the immoral Canadian and Asian ones" are the major reason that there is a depletion of fish in America.
Take Mr. Bill Clinton's advice and do the math, Canada has a population of less than 35 million, America has a population of almost 312 million people ( not counting all the illegal immigrants that you always talk about), who do you think eats more fish.
Are you kidding you think Canada has more fishing vessels than the USA.....you need to check your facts before you start accusing Canada for your lack of fish and by the way we really don't have that many recreational ocean fisherman ( unlike the southern US does)

3:03PM PDT on Sep 9, 2012

The best solution for the health of the oceans would be for some nation to commission a fleet of submarines to sink all commercial fishing boat monstrosities. All those greedy factory ships are insanely destructive to the ocean, especially the immoral Canadian and Asian ones. I could give a flying leap if every greedy factory fisherman in the world (along with the idiots who choke the world's oceans with plastic and toxins) were sunk with torpedoes and then drowned or starved to death.

3:50PM PDT on Sep 8, 2012

I recently read a study online that makes it very clear that unless serious measures are taken there will be NO FISH at all in the ocean in less than 30 years. Why oh why don't humans wake up to the fact that the earth has finite resources and they are not enough now to meet the demand. Of course, the underlying cause is human overpopulation, but no one wants to talk about the elephant in the room.

12:22AM PDT on Sep 8, 2012

You can't keep taking and taking from this earth and never give back.

10:26PM PDT on Sep 7, 2012

I just read an article about the Australian aborigines who when stocks of fish got low,they stopped fishing them and instead found alternatives until the supplies came back to normal. We can learn a lot from the Native people of the World.

6:05AM PDT on Sep 7, 2012

Overfishing is a direct cause and effect of HUMAN overpopulation. Until something is done about the human overpopulation problem, it will only get worse with every part of the food chain and ecosystem. We are NOT omnipotent and everlasting...

6:03AM PDT on Sep 7, 2012

Thanks for the balanced information on this issue as commercial fishing interests try to undo the most recently adopted limits.

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