Lost at sea

New research reveals huge loss of jobs and profits due to overfishing of EU stocks

Lost at sea

Research published by the new economics foundation (nef) finds that poor management of fish stocks is draining jobs and profits. The report Jobs Lost at Sea estimates the benefits of rebuilding 43 European stocks (out of more than 150) and finds that:

  • Restoring these 43 stocks to their maximum sustainable yield (MSY) would generate 3.53 million tonnes of additional landings; enough to meet the annual demand of fish for almost 160 million EU citizens.  
  • Value of restoring fish stocks is worth £2.7 billion (€3.2 bn) per year to all countries. It is worth £1.5 billion (€1.8 bn) per year to the EU27, or almost three times its annual fishing subsidies.
  • Value of restoring these fish stocks could support 100,790 new jobs, around 83,000 to the EU27 (31% more than current employment in the EU fishing sector).
  • Restoring fish stocks could increase catch values from these stocks by 81% for the EU27, and more than double for most countries, including the UK (+109%) and Germany (+116%).
  • Worst affected fish are cod (lost 970,000 tonnes/yr), haddock (lost 378,000 tonnes/yr), herring (lost 854,000 tonnes/yr) and whiting (lost 834,000 tonnes/yr).

Overfishing means the EU is getting much less out of its fish stocks than if they were restored and sustainably managed. nef has analysed of the difference between the current size of catches compared with their potential (‘maximum sustainable yield’) to highlight the scale of that overfishing has hijacked revenues and employment.

Author of the report, Rupert Crilly, Environmental Economics researcher at nef/OCEAN2012, said:

“Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.”

“Overfishing is bad for the economy. With the stroke of a pen, European fisheries ministers are wiping out millions of pounds and thousands of jobs each year by allowing overfishing to continue.

“A third of the UK population’s annual fish consumption could be provided by just the UK’s share of restoring these fish stocks. The industry could employ an extra 46 per cent more people. Over £400 million could be invested in coastal communities every year, 24 times the annual subsidy the UK receives precisely to mitigate the costs of overfishing. 

“Restoring fish stocks is within politicians’ power. And in the current economic climate the stakes are higher than ever.”

About nef:

nef (New Economics Foundation) is an independent think-and-do tank that inspires and demonstrates real economic well-being. We aim to improve quality of life by promoting innovative solutions that challenge mainstream thinking on economic, environment and social issues. We work in partnership and put people and the planet first.

For more information or to arrange an interview:

Rupert Crilly: 0207 820 6389 / 07854843505

Aniol Esteban: 0207 820 6323 / 07951648914