The science of sustainable seafood, explained

Yale’s Environmental Performance Index is Deeply Flawed

Yale has released a new tool, called the Environmental Performance Index, meant to score and rank fisheries management of different countries around the world. It ranks Sri Lanka having the best managed fisheries in the world. Other notables include: The United States ranked 96th, Norway 72nd Australia 77th, Iceland 84th, China 89th, New Zealand 94th, and the UK 98th. You can explore the rankings and methodology here.

Comment by Ray Hilborn, University of Washington, @hilbornr

A new low in indices of fisheries performance

The Yale Environmental Performance Index for fisheries reaches a new low in absurd rankings of global fisheries.  To argue that Sri Lanka has the highest Fisheries Performance in the world, and that Libya, Kenya, Ecuador, Cote de Ivoire, Yemen and Nigeria rank far far above the U.S., Iceland, Norway, New Zealand and Australia reveals a total lack of understanding about anything fisheries sustainability.

These “low ranked” countries all have strong fisheries management systems and fish resources that are sustainable as evaluated by NGOs like the Marine Stewardship Council and others.  There is absolutely no scientific data about the abundance of fish resources in the countries that rank at the top of Yale’s list and all indicators suggest their fish resources are likely in decline.

Ray Hilborn is a Professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington. Find him on twitter here: @hilbornr
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3 Responses

  1. Booyah to Dr. Hilborn. What is up with these people at Yale? Apparently they do not require any objective evaluation of the results of their evaluation. Do they cite anyone of any knowledge who has evaluated their system?

  2. First of all, that report is from 2014, which is ancient. Secondly, the index is not meant to rank global fisheries status. It is but one of TWENTY METRICS for a variety of environmental problems in the world. So, wrong again. Thirdly, all of their data came from some of the most respected sources, and we all know how absolutely atrocious fisheries data is, which is why those rankings are strange. Do a little research next time before you go off the hatchet.

    1. Hi Jason,

      I think you nailed why we wrote about the Yale EPI. The data is terrible and yet they still used it as one of their metrics to “rank” environmental problems. Data from “respectable sources” means nothing; the poorness of the data and rankings speak for themselves. These kinds of publicly available information mislead the public and lead to misconceptions that infiltrate policy and law; we exist to squash the misconceptions.

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