Global trends in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fuel combustion in marine fisheries from 1950 to 2016

Krista Greer, Dirk Zeller, Jessika Woroniak, A. Coulter, M. Winchester, M. L.Deng Palomares, Daniel Pauly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


Using the Sea Around Us global catch and effort databases (, this study presents time series estimates (1950–2016) of total CO2 emissions and emissions intensity (CO2 emissions per unit of catch) from the combustion of fuel in global marine fisheries by fishing sector, as well as a regional comparison of fuel use intensity for 2011. In 2016, total CO2 emissions of the industrial fishing sector were 159 million tonnes compared to 39 million tonnes in 1950. In contrast, the small-scale fishing sector emitted 48 million tonnes in 2016, compared to only 8 million tonnes in1950. Industrial CO2 emissions intensity was estimated to be 2.0 tCO2∙tcatch−1 in 2016 compared to 1.8 tCO2∙tcatch−1 for the small-scale sector in the same year. A previous study, using different methods, estimated global CO2 emissions from fishing to be 112 million tonnes in 2011. Geographical comparisons suggest that the differences between global estimates are explained by regional variation in fuel use intensity and the inclusion of unreported catch and effort data in our estimate. Supplementing fuel use intensity data for one region to that of another with considerably different fisheries may result in misrepresenting fuel use intensity and subsequently CO2 emissions. Our analysis provides insights into changing trends in CO2 emissions from marine fishing and highlights the potential importance of this industry as part of global CO2 reduction strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103382
JournalMarine Policy
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019


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