Thursday, November 08, 2007

Vanishing Fish in South-East Asia

Having just given a lecture on over fishing and the possible government policies (quotas, taxes, aquaculture) to address the problem it is timely that a new report has been released talking about the vanishing fish of south-east Asia.

This story reinforces the "open access" problem related to the "tragedy of the commons" argument.

In the lecture we even examined how fishing in the Philippines had followed the traditional growth curve - the data finished in the mid 1980s. What this article reveals is just how bad the problem has not got.

In the Gulf of Thailand, the density of fish had declined by 86 percent from 1961 to 1991, while between 1966 and 1994 the catch per hour in the Gulf by trawlers fell more than sevenfold.

In Vietnam, a new fishing power and a rising source of imports by Australia, the total catch between 1981 and 1999 only doubled despite a tripling of capacity of the fishing fleet -- a sure sign that fishing was reaching capacity, she said.

In the Gulf of Tonkin, where Vietnam shares resources with China, the record was even worse with fish catch per hour in 1997 only a quarter of that in 1985.

"In the Philippines, most marine fisheries were overexploited by the 1980s, with catch rates as low as 10 percent of rates when these areas were lightly fished," she said.


That is now a lot of effort to catch a much small number of fish. This means we are clearly past any profit maximising or maximum sustainable yield position and are clearly at the open access equilibrium where, if costs were to fall, could push the stocks of many fish to dangerously low levels. Finally, the article ends with a comment on just how difficult policy enforcement is.

Article below:

The report is from the Lowy Institute and the report can be downloaded from HERE.[1.3MB]
Southeast Asia's oceans are fast running out of fish, putting the livelihoods of up to 100 million people at risk, leading to more illegal incursions into Australia's northern fisheries and putting the future of shared stocks between Australia and Southeast Asia at grave risk. A new Lowy Institute Paper entitled 'Enmeshed: Australia and Southeast Asia's Fisheries' by Dr Meryl J. Williams looks at the sources of this depletion and what can be done regionally to address it before it becomes too late.

Media in Australia and Southeast Asia have responded to Meryl's paper with the original Reuters story being picked up in the Philippines and Thailand (and Pakistan) while Singapore's Straits Times also ran a story on the paper.



Fish Vanishing from Southeast Asian Oceans - Report [Planet Ark]
SYDNEY - Southeast Asia's oceans are fast running out of fish, putting the livelihoods of up to 100 million people at risk and increasing the need for governments to support the maintenance of fish stocks, an Australian expert said.

Fisheries in the region had expanded dramatically in recent decades and Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines were now in the top 12 fish producing countries in the world, Meryl Williams said in a paper for Australia's Lowy Institute.

"As the fourth largest country in world fish production, Indonesia is a fisheries giant. Yet ... Indonesian marine fisheries resources are close to fully exploited and a significant number in all areas are over-exploited," she said.

Williams, a former director general of the international WorldFish Center, said the number of fishers was still increasing in most Southeast Asian countries despite a trend since the 1980s to close frontiers due to territorial claims and overfishing.

In the Gulf of Thailand, the density of fish had declined by 86 percent from 1961 to 1991, while between 1966 and 1994 the catch per hour in the Gulf by trawlers fell more than sevenfold.

In Vietnam, a new fishing power and a rising source of imports by Australia, the total catch between 1981 and 1999 only doubled despite a tripling of capacity of the fishing fleet -- a sure sign that fishing was reaching capacity, she said.

In the Gulf of Tonkin, where Vietnam shares resources with China, the record was even worse with fish catch per hour in 1997 only a quarter of that in 1985.

"In the Philippines, most marine fisheries were overexploited by the 1980s, with catch rates as low as 10 percent of rates when these areas were lightly fished," she said.

Williams said Southeast Asian fisheries were serviced by a plethora of regional bodies and agreements, but few acted effectively on illegal fishing and shared stock management.

At the same time, illegal fishing was "dynamic, creative, clever and usually one step ahead of authorities".

A Southeast Asian government may issue a single fishing licence only to find it being used by four different boats, she said. In Indonesia, foreign fishing vessels, often Chinese in joint-ventures, operated on the "margins of legality" in a geographically vast archipelago.

Williams said Australia should step up collaboration with Southeast Asian countries to help manage fish stocks.


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2 comments:

Media Master said...

Hi! I am an Indonesian aquaculturist. To briefly explain the condition of Indonesian fisheries, a lot of foreign vessels (criminals) often catch fish in Indonesia without permission. On the other hand local fisherman does not have the boating power to fish further the coastline. So it is a big dilemma for the government. A solution is the empowerment of the local fisherman.


roffi.akuatika.net

Term papers said...

That is now a lot of effort to catch a much small number of fish. This means You are clearly past any profit maximizing or maximum sustainable yield position and are clearly at the open access equilibrium where, if costs were to fall, could push the stocks of many fish to dangerously low levels. Finally, the article ends with a comment on just how difficult policy enforcement is.