sustainability has been driving changes in the fishing industry around the
world over the last decade the need to become more efficient and effective is
becoming more and more important.
A long time
ago, commercial fishing was just about catching fish and landing it. And that
was it. Today’s modern industry is very different, and so are the demands of
the market and the end user. Sustainability has remained more of a ‘buzz word’
around the globe and is now ingrained in every fishing fleet across the world.
But a number of external factors such as fuel prices, changes to quotas and
fish prices, to name just a few, mean that above all else fishing fleets are
being forced to become more efficient and more effective if they want to
survive in an industry that is becoming more competitive by the day.
nations have taken on these challenges by implementing a number of different
measures. But the biggest hurdle is actually assessing how efficient you are in
the first place.
The US is
taking the efficiency agenda seriously. Commercial fishing contributes
approximately $90 billion annually to the US economy and there are over 1.5
million jobs in the industry (and related industries) as a result. But like
many countries, management practices over the years has lead to inefficient
fishing practices that threaten both the economic and ecological sustainability
of US fisheries, according to a new research paper: Tomorrow’s Catch: A
Proposal to Strengthen the Economic Sustainability of U.S. Fisheries Wild
fisheries in U.S by economist, Christopher Costello.
discusses new opportunities for improving the economic prosperity and long-term
sustainability of the US fishing industry. It challenges the industry to make
changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, thus
requiring that fisheries should meet certain criteria and to undertake a
comparison of the economic, social and ecological trade-offs between status quo
management and alternative management and alternative management structures,
including catch shares.
says the ‘catch share’ approach could be widely adopted in the future. It says
catch shares will give fishing communities a greater stake in the
sustainability of fisheries, thereby preventing their depletion and building
long-term economic prosperity.
Drawing on a
growing body of empirical evidence, Mr Costello observes that catch shares
eliminate the economically wasteful race to fish that threatens other fishery
management approaches. By dramatically lengthening the fishing season, catch
shares can lead to gains in long-term employment, significant improvements in
safety for fishermen, and improved availability of fresh fish for consumers.
Finally, by allowing fishermen to trade their catch share rights among
themselves, this property-rights approach would encourage the most efficient
fishermen to participate in the market, leading to lower costs and higher
profits for fishing communities, the paper says.
goes on to make a very important point. It says that the inefficiency of
fishery management systems that are not property-rights driven arises from two
basic sources. Fisheries are overexploited when fishermen have little stake in
the future productivity of the resource, it says.
of course, has negative consequences for conservation. But even if one cares
only about the economic prosperity of the fishing industry, conventional
management often leads to inefficiently small resource stocks, and thus to
lower profits, adds the paper.
produce three mechanisms that drive economic prosperity. First, they promote
the efficient use of economic inputs, lowering the cost of fishing, often by
30-50%. Second, they improve the quality and value of the product by
dramatically extending the season length, which typically raises prices by 10-40%,
because fish are sold on the fresh, not frozen, market. Third, they encourage
the efficient management of fish stocks, increasing harvest over time and
reducing fishery collapse, the paper goes on to say.
have increased economic efficiency in the British Columbia halibut fishery and
have improved long-run conservation measures in New Zealand through increased
asset prices. In the Gulf of Mexico’s red snapper fishery, the aggregate
economic benefits of catch shares ranged from a two-fold increase in economic
surplus to a ten-fold increase in market capitalisation, according to the
the drive from the EU to make fishing more efficient is part of overall plans
to drive the sustainability agenda which forms the new revised Common Fisheries
Policy. The EU has an on-going aim to reduce the amount of fuel used by fishing
According to the EU, fishing is one of the most energy-intensive food
production methods in the world. In 2000, the world’s fleets were responsible
for approximately 1.2% of the total global fuel consumption, equating to 0.67
litres of fuel per Kg of live fish and shellfish landed. In 2008, the EU fleet
alone consumed 3.7 billion litres of fuel. But in the past decade fuel prices
have also increased by an average of 80% while fisheries production has declined.
An on-going project is considering two main types of technical solutions to
increase efficiency involving fishing gears and techniques and onboard
propulsion and energy.
also been the introduction of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, which
is the new fund for the EU’s maritime and fisheries policy for 2014-2020, and is
the successor to the European Fisheries Fund (EFF). It aims to help fishermen
with the transition to sustainable fishing and adjust to the requirements of
the reformed Common Fisheries Policy. It aims to: allow member states to carry
out effective data collection and enforcement; make it easier for fishermen to
access finance; finance projects that deliver economic growth; and support
coastal communities in diversifying their economies.
The need to increase
efficiency onboard is also still high on the agenda for fishing fleet owners.
Technology has played a huge role in this. It has not only made processing onboard
and on-land more efficient and effective - it has replaced the need to rely on
heavily skilled labour. A recent customer of processing specialist, Marel,
makes exactly that point when referring to the purchase of the company’s new
FleXicut-advanced grading and product distribution system.
“This is an important step towards more
advanced technology and greater automation in a process that otherwise requires
greatly skilled labour which is very difficult to find,” said Jon Edvald
Fridriksson, chief executive of Fisk Seafood.
Elsewhere, BAADER has
announced that long-term partner Northbay Pelagic has ordered 17 pelagic
processing machines and a TRIO FDS 55 Skinner, which is just one example to
emphasis the demand for new technology to drive efficiency around the world.