SNAPP TEAM:Fisheries Measures
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How can fisheries managers know they are achieving food security goals even when they lack sophisticated fish stock data?

When investments in fisheries are made to alleviate poverty and food security, the lack of data on the health of the world’s fish stocks makes it difficult to tell if these programs are achieving their goals. To address this issue, data that increases the coverage of stock status and management databases must be synthesized to identify major information gaps and provide an evaluation of the status of fisheries around the world.


OUR APPROACH: This team is synthesizing data to assess the status of key fish stocks, which will inform a systematic analysis of all the factors that lead to good outcomes in fisheries management.

Team Status: COMPLETED
Team Critical Challenge: Food Security and Nature

The Triple Bottom Line

The main result thus far is that there is considerable potential for more catch, more profit and higher fish abundance in the world, or a “triple bottom line.” This potential is especially high in South and Southeast Asian countries with very large, mostly unregulated fisheries.


A Global Dichotomy of Fisheries Management

The team found that there is great contrast between the fisheries management systems of the world, with top scoring countries routinely using 90% of the elements of fisheries management systems, while the countries scoring lowest had very few of these elements.


Drivers of Stock Recovery

The team found that the dominant explanation for whether stocks have rebuilt has been the level of fishing pressure. When fishing pressure has been reduced, stocks have generally rebuilt, but if fishing pressure has remained too high, stocks have not rebuilt. Tentative explanations for why fishing pressure has declined in some areas and not in others includes the implementation of a legal framework requiring sustainable fishing and use of specific management tools such as annual catch limits.


“The status of fish stocks depends largely on the management system. If overfishing is occurring and reducing fishing pressure that means the stock abundance will increase, economic performance of the fishery will be better, and higher catches can result. If management agencies restrict fishing pressure their fisheries can be sustained at a high level.”

– Ray Hilborn, Team Leader

Key Products
Effects of biological, economic and management factors on tuna and billfish stock status

In this Fish and Fisheries paper, the team evaluated trends in tuna and billfish stocks, finding that stocks were more depleted if they had high commercial value, were long‐lived species, had small biomass before intensive fishing, and were subject to intense fishing pressure for a long time.

Global fishery prospects under contrasting management regimes

In this PNAS publication, the team synthesized and analyzed data from 4,713 fisheries worldwide, representing 78% of global reported fish catch, to estimate the status, trends, and benefits of alternative approaches to recovering depleted fisheries.

Ocean Prosperity Roadmap Webinar: Fisheries and Beyond

Team member Chris Costello and team lead Ray Hilborn presented the team’s research in this webinar, demonstrating how governance and management reform can reduce poverty while achieving economic gains, increasing food production, replenishing fish and conserving ocean health for future generations.

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Ray Hilborn
University of Washington
Ricardo Amoroso
University of Washington
Chris Anderson
University of Washington
Julia Baum
University of Victoria
Doug Beare
World Fish Center
Trevor Branch
University of Washington
Chris Costello
University of California, Santa Barbara
Carryn DeMoor
University of Cape Town
Malek Faraj
Moroccan Fisheries Agency
Olef Jensen
Rutgers University
Hiroyuki Kurota
Fisheries Research Agency
Pamela Mace
New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries
Tim McClanahan
Wildlife Conservation Society
Caleb McClennen
Wildlife Conservation Society
Mike Melnychuk
University of Washington
Ana Parma
Centro Nacional Patagonico; The Nature Conservancy
Carmen Revenga
The Nature Conservancy
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