UN says 8 bln dollar-investment in greening fisheries could raise catches

09:09, May 18, 2010      

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A UN report launched on Monday said investing around 8 billion US dollars a year in rebuilding and greening the world's fisheries could raise catches to 112 million tons annually.

The findings by the UN Environment Program (UNEP) also said the investment could trigger benefits to industry, consumers and the global economy totalling 1.7 trillion dollars over the next 40 years.

The investment, some of which can be covered by phasing down or phasing out some of the 27 billion dollar-worth fishing subsides currently in place, is needed to dramatically reduce the excess capacity of the world's fishing fleets while supporting workers in alternative livelihoods.

"Fisheries across the world are being plundered, or exploited at unsustainable rates. It is a failure of management of what will prove to be monumental proportions unless addressed," said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

"The lives and livelihoods of over half a billion people, linked with the health of this industry, will depend on the tough but also transformational choices the governments make now and over the years to come," he added.

The landmark report being compiled by UNEP and economists entitled the Green Economy said funding is also required to reform and re-focus fisheries management, including through policies such as tradable quotas and the establishment of Marine Protected Areas, in order to allow depleted stocks to recover and grow.

Such measures, backed up by bold and forward-looking investments, would not only generate important economic and environmental returns but also assist in fighting poverty by securing the primary protein source of close to one billion people. "The Green Economy preview report presented on Monday offers a way of maximizing the economic, social and environmental returns from rebuilding, reforming and sustaining fisheries for current and future generations," said Steiner.

He said the scenarios recognize that millions of fishers will need support in retraining and that fishing fleets must shrink.

But this, Steiner said, needs to be set against a rise in catches, an overall climb in incomes for coastal communities and companies, improvements in the health of the marine environment and ultimately hundreds of millions of people whose incomes and livelihoods are linked to fishing.

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