The Earth’s oceans have been over-fished, leading to decreased biodiversity, with current practices being unsustainable.
Fish populations have been shown to rebound quickly following well enforced fishing bans. In fact, many experts believe fishing will only be sustainable if marine reserves, where fishing is banned, is expanded significantly.
That’s why some activists and scientists are discussing the idea of a fishing ban in international waters. International waters are approximately 58% of the ocean surface and include everything that is 200 miles or more from sovereign land. Fishing in this area is largely unregulated. Fishing boats use voluminous trawl nets, longlines miles in length, and other industrial gear to catch migrating fish and shark.
The environmental damage is tremendous, such as ancient corals being destroyed by deep trawl nets. All the while, the contribution to the global food supply is negligible.
Proponents say a fishing ban in this area will protect depleted species and create more fish in coastal waters.
University of British Columbia fisheries professor Daniel Pauly, has studied international water fisheries for years, and supports the idea of a ban. His research has shown that the global catch would be greater, with a fishing ban in international waters and the catch would be more evenly distributed. Currently, only a few nations catch most of the fish in these waters, including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Spain.
The discussion of a fishing ban in international waters is gaining rapid momentum as the United Nations convene in New York City to negotiate a treaty on protecting biodiversity in these waters from industrial activity, including fishing. The meeting could be the first step towards creating large marine reserves, if not a full closer to fishing in international waters.