SFP: Reduction fisheries slightly worse off than in previous years

Published on
November 13, 2019

The 2019 reduction fisheries report, recently released by the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP), indicates that a smaller percentage of the volume of worldwide reduction fisheries is coming from “reasonably well-managed” fisheries. 

The report analyzed 26 fishery stocks worldwide, and found that 88 percent of the volume is coming from “reasonably well-managed” fisheries, a decrease of 3 percent compared to 2018. It also found a 2 percent increase in the volume of fish from fisheries that are poorly managed, and painted a slightly worse picture of the fisheries than in previous reports. 

“The overall sustainability status of the fisheries covered in this report is slightly more pessimistic than in 2018,” the authors of the report wrote. “This is mostly related to a drop in the stock condition of a few European and South American fisheries (e.g., Chilean jack mackerel – SE Pacific).”

Only 3 percent of the total catch volume of reduction fisheries analyzed came from stocks in “very good condition,” according to the report. That volume corresponds with the Antarctic krill – Atlantic Southern Ocean fishery, as it has in the past four reports on the subject by SFP. 

Catch volume from reasonable managed fisheries with stocks in good condition also decreased, by roughly 5 percent. That was attributed in the report to the “pessimistic perceptions of the stock condition of the Chilean jack mackerel – SE Pacific (5 percent) and European pilchard – NW Africa southern stocks.”

Overall, three fisheries improved their sustainability status, according to the report: 

  • European sprat - North Sea, Skagerrak and Kattegat (C to B1) 
  • European pilchard - NW Africa central (B2 to B1) 
  • Anchoveta - Chilean Central-Southern (regions V-X) (C to B2) 

In contrast, four decreased in their sustainability categories: 

  • Chilean jack mackerel - Southeast Pacific (B1 to B2) 
  • European pilchard - NW Africa southern (Morocco) (B1 to B2) 
  • Sandeels nei - Dogger Bank area (B1 to C) 
  • Capelin – Icelandic (B2 to C) 

Despite the slightly pessimistic outlook of the report, the authors also asserted that the future outlook for reduction fisheries is better than the numbers make it seem. 

“This result should not be discouraging or mask the considerable improvements in management systems that have been observed for some regions over the last decade,” they wrote. “As in recent years, it is possible to observe the positive trend in fisheries certification, fisheries improvement projects, and other management improvement initiatives, in particular among the reduction fisheries from the North Atlantic and Eastern Pacific waters.”

However, the Southeast Asian reduction fisheries still pose a big obstacle to the overall sustainability of reduction fisheries worldwide. Data deficiency, low governance, and severe environmental impacts were all mentioned in the SFP report. 

“The industry is still confronted by the realities of Asian reduction fisheries. This report features some Asian fisheries – the Indian oil sardine – and also notes new information and new improvement models geared toward such fisheries,” the report states. “More broadly, SFP has seen a growing interest in improvements in many Asian countries, and it is to be hoped that formal fishery improvement projects will be developed in the near future. Only by creating and supporting fishery improvement projects at a larger scale in this region can we expect to see the kind of progress currently experienced in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific, and eventually build a fishmeal/oil industry that is 100 percent sustainable.”

Photo courtesy of Dave Martin/Sustainable Fisheries Partnership

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