According to a new report from the World Bank, inefficiency, wastefulness and poor management of fishing fleets are causing immense economic losses world wide. The report The Sunken Billions: The Economic Justification for Fisheries Reform, which was launched at the World Bank headquarters in New York and discussed at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Congress in Barcelona, says it would be possible to save 50 billion USD a year through wide-ranging reforms.

fishingboat World Bank Report: Wasteful fishing regulations fritter away $50bn a year

According to the World Bank study, the two main reasons behind the massive losses are depleted fish stocks and fleet overcapacity. Depleted fish stocks make it more expensive to locate and catch fish, turning commercial fishing into a less efficient business. The fleet overcapacity adds to the problem through redundant investment and operating costs.

While calling for wide-ranging reforms – including a comprehensive restructuring of fishing methods, removal of subsidies, and a more responsible and impartial stewardship of the seas – the report also acknowledges that such an endeavour won’t be without political, social, and economic costs. The current ‘business as usual’ attitude would however be even more costly in the long run, since it would lead to a scenario where commercial fishing becomes a drain on society through extensive subsidies.

According to the report, the recent steep increase in fuel prices can not be blamed for the loss-making since the marine fishing industry has been in decline for a much longer period of time. Despite increased fishing efforts and increasingly high-tech fishing fleets, depleted fish populations have caused the global marine catch to stay at the same level for over a decade.