Marine fisheries are a huge international industry, with a multitude of implications for different sectors: environment, health, employment, trade, industry, cultural heritage, and subsistence. However, accuracy in reporting in fisheries remains a problem, largely due to the lack of consensus of actual worldwide fisheries employment. Teh and Sumaila (2013) quantified worldwide fisheries employment, including direct and indirect employment, and recognition of small-scale fisheries. Using employment and demographic data from 144 nations, as well as the Monte Carlo algorithm to fill in missing data, the authors estimated that some 260 million people are involved in the fishing industry, of which about 22 million are involved in small-scale fisheries. – Hannah Tannenbaum
Teh, L., Sumaila, U R. 2013. Contribution of marine fisheries to worldwide employment. Fish and Fisheries 14, 77-88.
The accurate evaluation of marine fisheries contribution to worldwide employment may further our understanding of fisheries in terms of socio-economics and environment. Different nations across the world are involved in fisheries but vary in terms of scale and primary purpose. The authors first found that developed countries were typically fishing on a much larger scale than developing countries; this has implications regarding direct and indirect fisheries employment as well as underreporting from “small-scale,” artisanal, or subsistence fisheries.
To compensate for the paucity of data regarding small-scale fisheries, the authors first defined small-scale, then classified countries by the UN Human Development Index status and by geographical location, and then used a probability algorithm to estimate the small-scale fishing component. Small-scale fisheries operations were classified as “being individuals living in rural areas in the coastal zone,” (Teh 2013). The Monte Carlo algorithm was applied to estimate the number of small-scale fisheries, which uses repeated random sampling with known variables, such as the rural coastal population, to fill in unknown variables, individuals involved in fisheries. The authors recognize that uncertainty remains as to the exact number of small-scale fisheries world-wide, but found that deviations on estimations of small-scale fisheries were most closely matched to coastal population trends, which could provide insight for future work.
Ultimately, through national databases and probabilistic estimations, the authors estimated that 260 million people are either full-time or part-time employed directly or indirectly in marine fisheries. They also approximated that 22 million people were involved in small-scale fishers, and that 78% of global fishers workers are from the developing world.
Since global fisheries contribute to national economies, cultural identities, and environmental security, knowledge of the scale and magnitude of the international fisheries industry is crucial to its preservation. The authors were able to use national statistics and probabilities to estimate the world wide employment of fisheries, and elucidated where further research and reporting is needed.