Overfishing of unclaimed oceans beyond the 200-mile limit of national jurisdictions endangers a natural, global carbon sink that absorbs more than 1.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide and generates an estimated $148 billion in economic value each year, environmental blogger Stephen Leahy reports this week, based on a study by the Global Ocean Commission.
“The high seas are like a failed state,” said Commission Co-Chair David Miliband, the former UK foreign secretary. “Poor governance and the absence of policing and management mean valuable resources are unprotected or being squandered.”
“If governments ended fishing in the unclaimed oceans beyond 200-mile economic zones, near-shore fish catches would soar, even more carbon would be safely removed from the atmosphere, and the oceans would be healthier,” Leahy writes, citing study co-author Rashid Sumaila of the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre.
“Governments like Japan, Spain, the U.S., and China subsidize fishing fleets to destroy the high seas by overfishing and deep-sea bottom trawling to the tune of $152 million a year,” he adds. And “here’s the kicker: The dollar value of all the fish caught way out there is actually negative when costs like fuel and subsidies are subtracted. Turns out high seas fishing fleets get 25% of their income from subsidies, according to a 2009 analysis by Sumaila.”