Scientist Daniel Pauly, a world reference in marine research, believes that the future of fishing lies in artisanal boats and by eliminating subsidies to industrial fleets, because the supply of fish is in danger.
Pauly, a professor at the University of British Columbia (Canada), affirms, that there is a “global problem” of fish stocks, which threatens food security and is due to “excess fishing effort” and “the subsidized fleets”.
The scientist promoted a digital encyclopedia on fish (Fishbase) 30 years ago and is currently the principal investigator of the initiative on marine ecosystems “Sea between us”. “The state of the fisheries will improve when we end the subsidies and politicians legislate to recover the fishing grounds,” Pauly sentenced.
The professor, who has occasionally joined environmental campaigns against fishing aid, recently signed a statement with 300 scientists to urge the European Union (EU) to end overfishing.
In this sense, he sees an opportunity in the negotiation on fisheries aid of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Despite his criticisms, he distinguishes between the industrial and artisanal fleet, since he is in favor of promoting coastal fishing in small vessels.
“Artisanal fleets are the future of fishing; I have seen examples in fish markets in the south of Spain, where each fish is carefully treated and the catch is very valuable (…) I am in favor of an inshore activity, with all the fishermen in their territory and not in other countries”. However, when speaking of Spain he resorts to the cliché of a country with a “reputation” for subsidized fishing industry.
Sees insufficient EU improvements
Asked about the efforts of the EU fleets to reduce their capacity, he admits that the situation in the Atlantic has improved “but not enough”, so “the measures should continue”. In recent decades, Pauly explains, countries have had to send their fleets to long-distance waters “compensating them with subsidies, which has happened with Spain, France and China”, catching the fish “where they can, in Africa or Asia”.
On the contrary, it welcomes the United States efforts to recover the fisheries. Politicians, he emphasizes, cannot manage fishing like other food sectors, because in the sea “there is no competition to produce more”. “For example, if Spanish or French tuna vessels compete in Asia with other countries and some pay good wages and others have slaves, who wins?”
This statement coincides with the complaint by the European tuna vessels against the Chinese vessels for their mistreatment of the crew. However, Pauly, when speaking of China (world fishing leader) assures that its impact is due to the size of its fleet, with subsidies, but rejects value judgments about this country. “What China does (in reference to the expansion of fisheries) was done before by Spain, Greece and Russia,” he says.
Climate change and COVID-19
Pauly points out that a clear consequence of global warming is the displacement of schools of fish between the south and the north. “Studies show that there are fish from Portugal that end up in Galicia, reserves from Galicia that end up in France, resources in Spain that were previously in Morocco and Moroccan catches that were previously from Mauritanian waters,” he stresses. Regarding COVID-19, he assures that it will take time to know its effect on fishing, although he perceives that “it has affected demand more than the activity of the fleets.”
In relation to Peru, Pauly mentions a recent study that highlights the increase in the fishing effort of the artisanal fleet, with a negative impact on the fishing grounds and the profitability of fishermen, “vulnerable population at risk of poverty.”
In this country, it distinguishes between the artisanal fleet and the one dedicated to anchovy, for farm animal food, a product that he criticizes, just as he rejects aquaculture aimed at the same purpose.
Pauly also lists the excess fishing in countries such as Chile or Ecuador, and the lack of political action in the Caribbean, where “attention is only paid to trawlers” dedicated to lobster or shrimp.