Should Nations Close High Sea Fishing?
A radical idea to close the high seas to fishing could increase fish catch and revenue and improve climate resilience of coastal nations. But will it be on the menu of the United Nations High Seas Treaty?
About 58% of the world’s ocean is legally defined as high seas. The remaining 42% are national waters, also called Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs).
The Economics of Fishing the High Seas
While the ecological impacts of fishing the waters beyond national jurisdiction (the “high seas”) have been widely studied, the economic rationale is more difficult to ascertain because of scarce data on the costs and revenues of the fleets that fish there. Newly compiled satellite data and machine learning now allow us to track individual fishing vessels on the high seas in near real time.
Chinese trawlers illegally fishing thousands of sharks off Galapagos. Thousands of Sharks Found on Boat in Huge Illegal Haul.
The confiscation of the Chinese ship and arrest of its 20 crew in the Galápagos show just how hard it is to protect marine sanctuaries.
Voice of Science on Marine Biodiversity Negotiations
Over one hundred governments are currently negotiating a new legally binding instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). The new agreement is to address four broad themes: marine genetic resources (MGRs); area-based management tools (ABMTs), including marine protected areas (MPAs); environmental impact assessments (EIAs); and capacity building and the transfer of marine technology (CB&TT).
Chinese and Korean Fisheries catching Marine Seals in Argentina
A major challenge in global fisheries is posed by transhipment of catch at sea from fishing vessels to refrigerated cargo vessels, which can obscure the origin of the catch and mask illicit practices. Transhipment remains poorly quantified at a global scale, as much of it is thought to occur outside of national waters. We used Automatic Identification System (AIS) vessel tracking data to quantify spatial patterns of transhipment for major fisheries and gear types
Postwar growth of industrial fisheries catch to its peak in 1996 was driven by increasing fleet capacity and geographical expansion. An investigation of the latter, using spatially allocated reconstructed catch data to quantify “mean distance to fishing grounds,” found global trends to be dominated by the expansion histories of a small number of distant-water fishing countries.