FMSY report: Global fisheries can be increased due to rebuilding of fish populations


With an application of new FMSY values, the sustainable catches will increase by several million tons per year for the Northeast Atlantic fisheries compared to management based on the current FMSY values.

FMSY is the fishing mortality, i.e. catches due to fishing activity, that indicates the catch level resulting in a maximum sustainable yield (MSY) for a particular fish stock. The FMSY project is based on an ecosystem approach where the different fish species interactions within and with each other allows for larger and yet sustainable catches.

This is the overall outtake from the new report “Global fisheries catches can be increased after rebuilding of fish populations” which is composed by recognized researchers. At a time when the global population is demanding more food, a downward bias towards the FMSY estimates could be substantial, as fish products are healthy and have a low carbon footprint compared to meat produced on land. In the report, it is suggested to take a simple scientific approach that builds on existing stock assessment frameworks as well as removes known bias in current methodology. This approach is based on analysis of fish populations in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean, and it includes density dependent growth, reproduction and cannibalism, and it is based on single-species stock assessments. The report also found increasing scientific evidence that aiming for multispecies MSY in a marine ecosystem requires fishing higher trophic levels at higher rates than FMSY as the foregone catch from higher trophic levels is compensated greatly by increases in catches from lower trophic levels.

The report concludes that managing the Northeast Atlantic fisheries using the new FMSY values will increase the sustainable catches by several million tons per year compared with a management based on the current FMSY values.

The FMSY report and the project results are summarized on the EUfishmeal webpage: