Fact Sheet

Benefits of Rebuilding Global Marine Fisheries Outweigh Costs

A new paper in the peer-reviewed journal Public Library of Science One (PLoS One) estimated the costs and benefits of rebuilding the world's ocean fisheries to sustainable levels. Dr. Rashid Sumaila and co-authors found that the economic benefits of healthier fish populations would surpass the costs of recovery in just 12 years. The paper, “Benefits of rebuilding global marine fisheries outweigh costs,” also found that:

  • Rebuilding the world's marine fisheries could increase landed catch to an average of 89 million tonnes a year, with a value of US$101 billion a year. This represents an increase of 10 million tonnes and $20 billion a year over current levels.
  • Governments may need to collectively invest $130 billion to $292 billion to achieve healthier fish populations, but the gain in 50 years would be $660 billion to $1.4 trillion—three to seven times the mean cost of rebuilding.
  • This estimate is conservative because it accounts only for commercial fishing value and leaves out the potential boost to recreational fisheries and tourism.
  • Society as a whole would make money by promoting sustainable fishing, in part because governments spend an estimated $19 billion a year on fishing industry subsidies whose effect is either unclear or contributes to too much fishing pressure.


Sumaila, U.R., Cheung, W.W.L., Dyck, A., Gueye, K.M., Huang, L., Lam, V., Pauly, D.,Srinivasan, U.T., Swartz, W., Watson, R., and Zeller, D. 2012. Benefits of rebuilding global marine fisheries outweigh costs. PLoS One [volume TK].