Commercial Fishing Under Threat, UN Report

May 17, 2010 Updated: May 18, 2010

Commercial fishing activities could end by 2050 without action, said a Green Economy preview report published Monday by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

"Fisheries across the world are being plundered, or exploited at unsustainable rates,” Achim Steiner, UNEP executive director, said in a press release.

The UNEP reports 30 percent of fish stocks are at less than 10 percent of former potential.

At this rate the fishing sector would disappear in 40 years, the report said. Current government subsidies increase fishing fleets to a 50 to 60 percent overcapacity, leaving no room for fish to recover.

The report notes that investing US$8 billion a year could help the sector recover. Marine preservation areas allowing female fish to grow to full size is necessary, along with restructuring the fleet to emphasize smaller boats.

Over half a billion people depend on the fishing industry. "We believe solutions are on hand, but we believe political will and clear economics are required," Pavan Sukhdev, head of the Green Economy initiative, told reporters.

The U.N.’s final report will cover 11 sectors from agriculture to tourism providing the clear economics to eventually test the political will at the Rio+20 meeting in Brazil 2012.