UN To Investigate The Impact Of High Seas Fishing

John Konrad
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April 8, 2014

268px-CalPoly_Seal.svgFish populations have declined significantly over the past 60 years as a result of overfishing and a new study suggests a culprit: fishing on the high seas.

The study, published March 25 in the Public Library of Science Biology peer-reviewed journal was conducted by professors Crow White of Cal Poly and Christopher Costello, of UC Santa Barbara who used computer simulation to draw the conclusion that closing international waters to fishing could help rebuild stocks of migratory species and, ultimately, provide a boost to coastal fishing worldwide. The study further claims that fish in the high seas that traverse multiple EEZs are “overexploited relative to those contained in a single EEZ.”

“This is very much a conversation starter,” White said in an interview with the Times Tribune, noting that the United Nations is looking into the study. “It will take more detailed analysis on the science side (to implement).”

Despite the scientific findings local and national representatives from the commercial fishing industry vehemently with White and Costello’s findings.

“The financial losses around the world coupled with the absence of high-quality protein would kill people and destroy economies globally,”  Jeremiah O’Brien, a member of the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization, said in an interview with the Tribune. “This is (worse) than high school work, and they do need to give these things serious thought.”

Currently, few regulations prohibit commercial fishing on the high seas which lay outside exclusive economic zones (EEZs) and make up 58 percent of the world’s ocean territory.

Prior to implementing any new restrictions on high seas fishing the United Nations  would need to amend the  Convention on the Law of the Sea doctrine, an arduous process that would take years to compete.

The study’s analysis projects that, if new laws were enforced, fishery profits in exclusive coastal zones would double, fish yields would increase by more than 30 percent, and fish populations would increase by 150 percent.

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