Curb on Overfishing

At a major business event in Papua New Guinea late last year, the audience heard from a number of industry leaders about the great business opportunities that this fast growing economy of the region had on offer. While PNG’s progress is well known, the country has been making rapid strides on the live oceanic resources side as well. At the event, a representative of one of the country’s biggest tuna canneries said the company was expecting to treble the production of processed fish which would create more than 13,000 new jobs. While the US$110 million dollar company is a pride for any country anywhere in the world, especially since it notched up its success in less than two decades since inception, it needs to be noted that tuna is a natural resource that is not limitless in supply.

Though this is not to suggest that the company is indulging in any activities that might be contributing to widespread reports of depleting tuna stocks, one hopes that sustainable fishing is one of its important business practices. It is a known and oft quoted and discussed fact that overfishing in the high seas and coastal areas in recent decades has resulted in fish stocks depleting precipitously, though there is rarely any agreement between various concerned parties of how much the decline has been in real terms.

But there is no doubt that fish stock continues to be depleted despite measures and treaties that have been put in place. While such measures have helped raise awareness of the issue, success in curbing overfishing has been limited. It is clearly driven by demand and supply. As the world’s population increases and economic growth boosts affordability of more and more people to raise their living standards, the demand for protein based food increases. This demand is expected to grow even faster in the next few decades and the race to supply that demand will undoubtedly deplete resources further before the balance that is sought from sustainable farming practices begins to make any difference.

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