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Fish stock depletion

The Mangrove Foundation dashboard provides us with indications on our compliance towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals. One of which is number 14: “Life below water”. Though we have in the past supported a small initiative to restore mangroves in the Philippines, we have no current project on this front.

Recently reading about the catastrophic cod fish stock depletion in the Baltic sea, we are staggered by the current situation of life in the oceans. Indeed, an UNCTAD report published last year indicates that “nearly 90% of the world’s marine fish stocks are now fully exploited, overexploited or depleted”.

The report cites massive subsidies to fisheries as one of the biggest aggravating factors. Estimated to be in the range of $20bio, 85% go to large or industrial fleets, by their nature carrying out unsustainable fishing, and essentially in the form of fuel subsidies. Though, small-scale fisheries employ 90% of all fishers (60mio people in the World, 97% living in developing countries) and account for 30% of the catch in marine fisheries. The same report specifies that fish is one of the most traded food commodities worldwide, more than half coming from developing countries.

Sustainable fishing is therefore essential not only for the preservation of marine biodiversity, but also for the survival of the billions of people living in coastal areas. The UNCTAD suggests that subsidies be abandoned by 2020, this is most probably wishful thinking.

Our interest for the subject was also fueled in September 2018 by the scandalous deal signed by President Hery Rajaonarimampianina of Madagascar 2 days before the end of his mandate and against the advice of the country’s fisheries minister. This agreement worth $2.7bio would have given access to 330 Chinese industrial fishing vessels in the Madagascar territorial waters, where the overexploitation of marine life has made it difficult for hundreds of thousands of small-scale fishers to make a living. The rapacity of the ruling classes, their contempt for citizens and the environment seems limitless.


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