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Declining efficiency of small scale fisheries around the globe threatens food security

Alex Tidd leads a study on global reduction in efficiency of artisanal fisheries

17/12/2021 -

Fisheries are a crucial part of the global food system, representing on average 15-20% of animal protein intake (in some countries over 50%) for 4.5 billion people. Historically, changes in the efficiency of fishing fleets drove massive increases in global fisheries catches. Too many boats with excessive harvesting power catching too few fish can lead to an excess of fishing efficiency and threaten long-term sustainability, biodiversity of global fisheries resources, and the economic viability of fishing operations.
However, contemporary global information regarding trends in technical efficiency are lacking. Here we show that:
• Many countries that rely on this resource are poor, have few alternatives and are already suffering climate change related impacts. Our analysis shows globally that fishing efficiency has substantially increased for many industrial fleets of up to a level of 4% year on year but is falling up to a level of 3% for artisanal fleets in some regions that are threatened by climate change.
• We estimate that a global reduction in efficiency is falling on average -0.2% per year for this fleet (average for the last 5 years). This translates into a 71400 tonnes loss in catch globally, which could be a food security issue especially for the poorer countries who rely on fish for their dietary needs.

Until now, there have been no global estimates of these figures. This analysis provides new updated information to support United Nations Sustainable Development Goals related to the sustainable use of ocean resources and the Blue Growth agenda.

Our work uses global time series over a 64-year span to estimate changes in the efficiencies of fisheries production of every fishing country, geographically and over time. We use data envelopment analysis, a methodology widely applied in other disciplines, particularly business and economics, to measure productive efficiencies. Similar analytical approaches have been used in large-scale spatial studies of agricultural crop production to study global yield gaps and efficiencies (e.g. Neumann et al. 2010 Agricultural Systems) but this is the first study to apply the approach to global fisheries.

Here is the link to our new study!

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CATEGORIES: Alex Tidd, Clock, Elena Ojea, Research, Results