NEF explains new CFP report: Every £1 invested in fish stock restoration will yield £14 profit by 2052

Research published by the New Economics Foundation (nef) finds that restoring European fish stocks could generate huge returns on investment.

Key Findings:

  •  Most overfished stocks could be fully restored within five years, with a few needing four more 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 (ROI) of restoring fish stocks is 148% by 2023
  •  By 2052 the returns are £14 for every £1 invested

Years of mismanagement have left the majority of EU fish stocks overfished. A new report, No Catch Investment, from the New Economics Foundation has calculated the costs of restoring fish stocks and found they are far outweighed by the economic benefits in the short and long term.

Most overfished stocks could be fully restored within five years

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

If we were to stop fishing each of the 49 (out of more than 150 in European waters) overfished stocks from January 1 2013:

  • Fish supply could be higher than current levels within 4 years
  • Most fish stocks can be fully rebuilt within five years including Icelandic cod, all Hake, Mackerel and Whiting.
  • All fish stocks, including North Sea Cod could be fully restored within ten years.

Investing £9.16 billion would generate £4.43 billion profit by 2023

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.

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.

Restoring fish stocks offers significant returns on investment

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, a £1.48 is generated within the first decade (ROI of 148%). 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.

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.” 

Source: NEF Press Release, 14th September 2012,

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