Investment could restore EU fish stocks



New research by the New Economics Foundation (nef) has found that restoring EU fish stocks could generate huge returns on investment.

According to the report No Catch Investment, most overfished stocks could be fully restored within five years, with a few needing four more years.

It also finds that investing £9.16 billion in restoring fish stocks would generate £4.43 billion profit by 2023, and after stocks are restored the total value of landings would almost triple, generating £14.62 billion in revenue each year.

It calculates that the Return on Investment (ROI) of restoring fish stocks is 148% by 2023, and by 2052 the returns are £14 for every £1 invested

The estimates on the costs of restoring fish stocks have been calculated by assuming a temporary moratoria is placed on overfished stocks. Of 54 studied in this research, 49 are overfished.

The report says that if fishing the 49 overfished stocks was stopped (out of more than 150 in European waters), from January 1 2013 fish supply could be higher than current levels within four years; most fish stocks can be fully rebuilt within five years including Icelandic cod, all hake, mackerel and whiting; and all fish stocks, including North Sea cod could be fully restored within 10 years.

By quantifying the economic cost to the fishing industry of a temporary moratorium on fishing stocks, nef modelled the total cost of maintaining income and vessels over the restoration period.

Private funds
To ensure a temporary pause in fishing does not hurt fishermen the report says that £10.4 billion of investment would be needed over 9.4 years (£9.16 billion in present value terms), which should come from private funds, and rebuilding fish stocks should remove the need for subsidies to fishers after 2023.

The report says that if we stop fishing overfished stocks from January 2013, and fish stocks are restored to their Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) by 2023 at the latest, all investment costs will be recovered within 4.6 years, with each year thereafter seeing a net benefit on the investment.

The report calculates that for every £1 invested, £1.48 is generated within the first decade (ROI of 148%), and within the first 40 years (2013-2052), the returns are £14 for every £1 invested.

After stocks are restored the total value of landings would almost triple, generating £14.62 billion in revenue each year, and over a 40-year period (2013-2052) the current-value profit from investing now is £120.2 billion, with restoration delivering twice the value of catches as without (£260 billion compared with £130 billion).

Aniol Esteban, head of environmental economics at nef, said, “In the context of the current EU debt crisis, these figures speak for themselves. This is a no-catch investment that offers huge financial returns. Continued overfishing is bad for European economies. Restoring fish stocks means more jobs, more income for coastal communities, and less industry reliance on subsidies from taxpayers. It makes perfect economic and environmental sense.”