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Evolution of global marine fishing fleets and the response of fished resources


Rousseau, Y and Watson, RA and Blanchard, JL and Fulton, EA, Evolution of global marine fishing fleets and the response of fished resources, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America, 116, (25) pp. 12238-12243. ISSN 0027-8424 (2019) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2019 The Authors

DOI: doi:10.1073/pnas.1820344116


Previous reconstructions of marine fishing fleets have aggregated data without regard to the artisanal and industrial sectors. Engine power has often been estimated from subsets of the developed world, leading to inflated results. We disaggregated data into three sectors, artisanal (unpowered/powered) and industrial, and reconstructed the evolution of the fleet and its fishing effort. We found that the global fishing fleet doubled between 1950 and 2015 from 1.7 to 3.7 million vessels. This has been driven by substantial expansion of the motorized fleet, particularly of the powered-artisanal fleet. By 2015, 68% of the global fishing fleet was motorized. While the global fleet is dominated by small powered vessels under 50kW, they contribute only 27% of the global engine power, which has increased from 25 to 145GW (combined powered-artisanal and industrial fleets). Alongside an expansion of the fleets, the effective catch per unit of effort (CPUE) has consistently decreased since 1950, showing the increasing pressure of fisheries on the ocean resources. The effective CPUE of most countries in 2015 was a fifth of its 1950s value, which was compared to a global decline of abundance. There are signs, however, of stabilization and more effective management in recent years with a reduction in fleet sizes in developed countries.Based on historical patterns, and allowing for the slowing rate of expansion, one million more motorized vessels could join the global fleet by mid-century, as developing countries continue to transition away from subsistence fisheries, challenging sustainable use of fisheries resources.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:global fisheries, fishing effort, catch per unit of effort, fishing power, artisanal, industrial
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Fisheries sciences
Research Field:Fisheries management
Objective Division:Animal Production and Animal Primary Products
Objective Group:Fisheries - wild caught
Objective Field:Wild caught fin fish (excl. tuna)
UTAS Author:Rousseau, Y (Dr Yannick Rousseau)
UTAS Author:Watson, RA (Professor Reginald Watson)
UTAS Author:Blanchard, JL (Professor Julia Blanchard)
UTAS Author:Fulton, EA (Dr Elizabeth Fulton)
ID Code:132922
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:69
Deposited By:Fisheries and Aquaculture
Deposited On:2019-05-28
Last Modified:2020-01-14

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