OECD Review of Fisheries 2022

The OECD Review of Fisheries 2022 report finds that 18% of fish stock worldwide fall below sustainability standards

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has launched their report on the ‘OECD Review of Fisheries 2022’.

The Review of Fisheries is the OECD Committee for Fisheries’ flagship report. It aims to support policy makers and sector stakeholders in their efforts to deliver sustainable and resilient fisheries. Based on data reported by governments, the Review analyses major policy developments in OECD countries and emerging economies with large fisheries and suggests priorities for action at national and international levels.

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The OECD Review of Fisheries 2022 brings together and analyses data on fisheries management and support policies to inform decision makers and help foster sustainable and resilient fisheries that can provide jobs, food, and livelihoods for future generations. The Review assesses the health and productivity of fish stocks and explores how they can be better managed. It updates and analyses the OECD Fisheries Support Estimate (FSE), the most comprehensive and detailed collection of country-level data on governments support to fisheries, covering both subsidies and services to the sector in OECD countries and other major fishing nations. These support measures are categorised according to the risks of encouraging unsustainable fishing they can pose in the absence of effective fisheries management. Lastly, the Review suggests policy options to eliminate support to illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and investigates how to avoid ocean plastic pollution from ghost fishing gear.

Around two-thirds of the fish stocks assessed in the OECD Review of Fisheries 2022 are in good health, but at least one in five do not meet sustainability standards and need rebuilding. Many stocks could produce more food or more value for fishers if they were more abundant. The reports reviews how individual species are managed and identifies where management needs to be strengthened to ensure fisheries are sustainable.

How governments support the sector also matters. Over USD 10 billion in public money goes to support fisheries every year. The 2022 edition of the report proposes a self-assessment tool to identify where government support may risk encouraging unsustainable fishing, and recommends alternative support policies and better targeting.

This edition of OECD Review of Fisheries is the first to be published since the landmark agreement reached by members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in June 2022. After more than 20 years of negotiations, they agreed to prohibit subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, fishing of overfished stocks, and fishing in the unregulated high seas. They also agreed to take special care and exercise due restraint when subsidising fishing of stocks which are not monitored.

“Our Review provides key information that policymakers need to implement the agreement, including on fish stock health, fisheries management, and support to fisheries in OECD countries as well as other large fishing nations. It also provides data and tools for countries to develop fisheries policies that respond to domestic priorities, such as adapting to climate change, and building resilience in the face of inflation and supply chain disruptions,” writes Mattias Corman, OECD Secretary-General.

“The OECD Fisheries Management Indicators indicate that 64% of assessed stocks are in good health, while 18% fall below sustainability standards, and for a further 18% assessments are not conclusive (and their health status remains undetermined). Investments in stock assessments, tighter stock management, and rebuilding plans for overfished stocks could improve the sustainability of fish resources while generating more food and more value in the sector.

“The Review also assesses support policies, based on Fisheries Support Estimate (FSE) data that covers 40 countries and economies, accounting for 90% of world landings over 2018-20. On average, these countries provided total annual support of USD 10.4 billion to the fisheries sector during that period. This support was granted through a wide variety of policies, from fuel subsidies to spending on stock assessment research. The Review proposes a framework that countries can use to evaluate the risks to fish stock health from support policies when fisheries management is not fully effective.”

The countries providing the greatest levels of support to their fisheries also tend to have some of the largest fisheries sectors. Six economies accounted for 86% of all support reported in the FSE in 2018-20: the People’s Republic of China – 38% (down from just under half of all reported support in 2012-14), Japan – 13%, the United States – 10%, Canada – 8%, Brazil – 6%, while EU Member countries together accounted for just under 9%. These six economies were also in the top seven in terms of global catch volume, fleet capacity or employment. When considered as a share of the value of landings, per gross tonne of fleet capacity or on a per fisher basis, the support was highest in Poland, Sweden, Slovenia, Denmark and Brazil.

He continues: “Reform is already under way: support that presents the highest risk of encouraging unsustainable fishing in the absence of effective management has significantly declined and accounts for a relatively low share of support in OECD countries. However, fuel support increased in absolute terms in OECD countries in recent years and remains the single largest type of support provided by the emerging economies covered in the report.

“The benefits of reform and improved fisheries management to reduce the risks of unsustainable fishing are clear: improved economic and environmental performance of fisheries and more secure livelihoods for fishers and the communities in which they live. Now is the time to scale up action. By being among the first to accept the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, OECD countries can help make progress towards the ratification process. Through our OECD Fisheries Committee we can also support countries in their reform efforts, to make global fisheries more sustainable and beneficial, and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14.”

The Policy Briefs for the OECD Review of Fisheries 2022 report provide a summary of key findings, the latest data, and what policy makers can do to support sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.

» Managing fish stocks sustainably

» Supporting sustainable fisheries

» Eliminating government support to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing


OECD (2022), OECD Review of Fisheries 2022, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9c3ad238-en.

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OECD Review of Fisheries 2022 – two-thirds of fish stocks in good health

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