Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) today released its report on the state of whitefish fisheries. The analysis covers approximately 77% of the global wild harvest, including 51 fish stocks from 13 species around the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, based on assessments from the online database FishSource.

The report can be found here.

The analysis shows that if healthy fisheries maintain their status while poorly managed fisheries improve, a 25% increase in spawning stock biomass (an increase of 5 million tonnes) can be expected by 2020. 

The fisheries are rated as either category A, B, or C depending on the quality of the management and the status of the stock. A Category A fishery is considered “very well managed” and a Category B fishery is considered “reasonably managed.” A Category C fishery is considered “poorly managed” and in need of significant improvements.

The report concludes that:

  • 52% of the total volume of whitefish catch comes from well-managed fisheries (Category A), representing an 11% increase from 41.5% in 2013. The stocks with the largest contributions in this category were Eastern Bering Sea (EBS) pollock (21.5%), Barents Sea cod (16.4%), North Pacific hake (whiting) (4.8%), and Icelandic cod (3.6%).
  • 38.6% of the total catch volume of whitefish comes from reasonably well-managed stocks (Category B), a slight increase (1.1%) compared to 2013.
  • 9.3% of the total catch volume of whitefish came from poorly managed stocks (Category C), a decrease of 11.8% (approximately 675,000 tonnes) compared to 2013.
  • Engagement in the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) program is increasing, with 86% of the supply in this overview coming from stocks with fisheries that were either MSC certified or under full assessment.
  • The remaining 24 poorly managed stocks (primarily NW Atlantic cod stocks that are highly depleted and show no signs of recovery) suggest that new and/or additional management measures must be employed to assist stock recovery.

According to Pedro Sousa, SFP Chief Scientist, “There have been steady improvements in the whitefish sector, but there is still huge potential for increasing stocks through fishery improvement projects. Although many larger fisheries are well managed, there are many smaller whitefish fisheries that are failing to achieve their potential, and this represents a loss of potential income for the seafood industry. The world needs more fish on the market and there is still plenty of room for improvement in the whitefish sector.”