Viewpoint: Back to the future for fisheries, where will we choose to go?

Dirk Zeller, Daniel Pauly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


We present a view on global marine fisheries that emphasizes mitigating the conflict between sustainability and the scale of industrial exploitation driven by the demand of continuous economic growth. We then summarize the current state of global fisheries. Finally, we advocate strongly for scaling back industrial fisheries, most of which are non-sustainable. This can be achieved through eliminating the harmful, capacity-enhancing subsidies that prop up industrial fisheries to continue operating despite declining fish stocks. Instead, we propose to support well-managed, locally owned and operated small-scale fisheries, which generally contribute more to local employment and food security. We stress that contrary to deep-seated opinion in the fishing industry and among politicians, reducing overfishing by eliminating overcapacity in fishing fleets will actually lead to greater, not reduced catches. This would address part of the increased global seafood demand over the coming decades, which is driven by population and wealth growth. This seems counterintuitive, but is supported by fisheries science, data and experiences. Thankfully, we are beginning to see that some of these changes are being pursued by a growing number of countries and international institutions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere11
Number of pages8
JournalGlobal Sustainability
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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