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Costs of restoring fish stocks outweighed by benefits
Published:  14 September, 2012

RESTORING European fish stocks could generate up to £14 for every £1 invested, according to a report published today.

The New Economics Foundation (NEF) calculated the costs of restoring fish stocks and found they are far outweighed by the economic benefits in the short and long term. Its “No Catch Investment” report found that:

*Most overfished stocks could be fully restored within five years

*Investing £9.16 billion in restoring fish stocks would generate £4.43 billion profit by 2023

*After stocks are restored the total value of landings would almost triple, generating £14.62 billion in revenue each year

*The Return on Investment of restoring fish stocks is 148 per cent by 2023

*By 2052 the returns are £14 for every £1 invested

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. Its report found that to ensure a temporary pause in fishing does not hurt fishermen:
*£10.4 billion of investment would be needed over 9.4 years (£9.16 billion in present value terms)
*These costs should come from private funds. Public funding (European Maritime and Fisheries Fund) should be targeted towards creating a favourable context for this investment to happen

*Rebuilding fish stocks should remove the need for subsidies to fishers after 2023.

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.”

Rupert Crilly, Environmental Economics researcher at NEF and lead author of the report, said: “Overfishing is a serious problem, currently affecting the majority of EU stocks. For too long the focus has been on the short term cost of a solution, rather than the economic, environmental and social benefits of proper stock management. In determining the initial cost of rebuilding fish stocks, we see that an end to overfishing in EU waters is affordable as well as desirable. Policy makers must now take action to ensure healthy, sustainable fish stocks for this and future generations.”

The report concluded: “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 are recovered within 4.6 years, with each year thereafter seeing a net benefit on the investment.

“For every £1 invested, £1.48 is generated within the first decade (ROI of 148 per cent). 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.

“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).

“Given that the stocks are restored to their full potential (MSY) by mid-2022, the benefits continue to be generated indefinitely as long as fishing does not exceed MSY.”

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