Fisheries and aquaculture provide food for hundreds of millions of people around the world every day, and employ over 10% of the world’s population, many of them women. However, marine and aquatic ecosystems are under stress – from climate change, fishing pressure, and pollution from various human activities, which lead to ocean acidification and declining biodiversity.
Recent estimates suggest that about one-third of global marine fish stocks are biologically overfished, up from about 10% in the mid-1970s. And the rapid progress of aquaculture production (the farming of aquatic organisms) now represents more than wild catches globally, raises concerns about pollution, disease, invasive species and costal ecosystem degradation in various parts of the world.
It is estimated that global fisheries could generate an additional USD 80 billion in value annually if they were optimally managed. Over a quarter of this foregone value is believed to be caused by illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, which reduces the resources available to legal fishers, undermines governments’ capacity to manage fish stocks sustainably, and reduces public revenue.
Helping governments sustainably manage fisheries, aquaculture, and protect the environment
Governments are increasingly aware of the shortcomings of fisheries and aquaculture management frameworks, and that smarter regulations and new technologies are needed if sustainability and productivity are to be improved. Many solutions are already available, which is why the OECD produced a handbook for fisheries managers to help policy makers around the world design good policies.
However, achieving reform in fisheries and aquaculture policy can be difficult. A broad range of interests are typically at stake and it is often difficult and expensive to collect data on marine resources and ecosystems. OECD research helps governments find a successful pathway to reform through improved governance, stakeholder consultation, and mobilization of scientific evidence and analysis.
The international community is also making an effort to combat IUU fishing with the objective of meeting specific targets adopted in 2015 under UN Sustainable Development Goal 14, as well as in the context of trade negotiations at the World Trade Organization and through discussions in regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs). Two reports recently published by the OECD review the progress made over the last decade in implementing best policies and practices against IUU fishing among OECD countries and in RFMOs, and identifies regulatory loopholes and policy gaps which still need to be addressed.
Dialogue on fisheries and aquaculture policies at the OECD
The OECD helps governments establish good policies to achieve environmentally sound fisheries and sustainable aquaculture to support resilient communities, provide quality food and secure livelihoods. Our work contributes to a more robust evidence base for policy making, and promotes a dialogue among and between authorities in charge of fisheries and aquaculture policies in OECD member countries and beyond.
Our biennial Review of Fisheries covers nearly half of global fisheries production and the majority of aquaculture production, tracking and quantifying developments in management frameworks and activities in the fishing and aquaculture sectors of OECD countries and important non-member fishing economies.
We also help support dialogue on government support to the fisheries sector using the OECD Fisheries Support Estimate (FSE) database, which measures fisheries support policies in a consistent and transparent way across all OECD member countries and other important fishing economies. The FSE and associated modelling work allow investigation of the impacts of fisheries support policies on resources and ecosystems as well as on jobs, incomes and value creation with a view to adjust policies to better deliver the goals they were designed to meet.