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Fishery potentials in Asia and the Pacific

The gaps in demand and supplies toward 2010 of about 24 mt above the current production level are not likely to be fulfilled by marine capture fishery production in the region. The study on trend analysis and fisheries potential by FAO has shown that most marine fishery resources were increasingly or fully fished (Grainger and Garcia, 1996).

The first estimates of world fishery production were given by the Technical Committee for Fisheries of the United Nations Interim Commission on Food and Agriculture in 1945 (FAO 1945). These estimates showed that the total marine production was about 17.7 mt (39 million pounds). At that time, only the North Pacific and North Atlantic fisheries were well developed and these area accounted to 93 percent of the total commercial harvest, with 5 percent from the Indian Ocean. Even then, it recognized that some stocks were already overfished and stressed the necessity for fishery conservation based on scientific evidence, particularly at a regional level.

In the 50 years since that report was prepared, fisheries have developed rapidly with the result that there are now few under-exploited resources and an increasing number of overexploited ones. Gulland (1971) estimated that the world potential for traditional marine fish species was about 100 million tonnes per year (Figure 8). The current exploitation of marine resources has an average of 83.8 million tonnes during 1992-1996.

The potential world marine production has been revised and estimated in three different ways since 1971. Using time series data during 1951-1992, Grainger and Garcia (1996) calculated the potentials of fishery resources in each FAO major fishing area and by the oceans (Table 7). As a result, these different world potentials were derived:

(1) Directly from data aggregated to world totals (Potential = 82 million tonnes);
(2) Summing estimates made for each Ocean (Potential = 100 million tonnes); and
(3) Summing estimates made for each FAO major fishing area (Potential = 125 million tonnes).
The difference between the aggregated potential (in case 1 above) and the potentials estimated with somewhat disaggregated data (in cases 2 and 3 above), which amounts to 18 and 43 million tonnes respectively, could be interpreted as the potential improvement to total world production if all Oceans or major fishing areas were rationally fished to their maximum, avoiding overfishing in all the areas.

For Asia and the Pacific, a comparison was made between the average landings of the last five years and the maximum potential production (Table 8). Taking into account the subjective degree of reliability of the trendlines (as indicated by the number of asterisks in Table 7), it would appear that, relative to the present situation, an increase of about 10 million tonnes might be possible. However, due to the weak statistical trends in both Western and Eastern Indian Oceans, an additional increase of 16-23 million tonnes is highly uncertain. Grainger and Garcia (ibid.) therefore concluded that the present analysis should be used as a backdrop to the more detailed study and reviews undertaken by FAO, area-by-area and stock-by-stock, to obtain a coherent overall picture on the possible contribution of marine capture fisheries to meet the demand in the next millennium.

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