In order to preserve our world’s fisheries, scientists are contemplating a radical new strategy: making fishing international waters illegal.
Over the last few decades, the vast majority of the world’s ocean fisheries have been significantly over-fished. Many scientists believe that the populations of some fish, especially tuna, are on the verge of collapse. In order to prevent this, some scientists are considering banning fishing in international waters.
The world’s oceans are currently divided into two zones: a country’s “exclusive economic zone,” which is located out to 200 miles from a country’s coast, and the high seas, which encompass everything else.
Currently, it is estimated that over 90 percent of all fish are caught within the exclusive economic zones of the various countries with coastlines. However, since fishing international waters is currently allowed with virtually no regulations, this fishing is particularly destructive to the worldwide fish populations as a whole.
Certain scientists and economists predict that banning fishing international waters could actually result in increased catches overall due to the fact that this would allow fish populations a safe haven to recover. The “spill over” of recovering fish populations from international waters into the exclusive economic zones would be a “win-win” situation for everyone.
Unfortunately, enacting and enforcing such a ban would be difficult. Strong resistance to a proposed ban is expected from countries with large fishing economies but small coastlines, such as Japan, the Philippines, or South Korea.
However, it is clear that something needs to be done. If world leaders do not take some decisive steps soon, we may not have any fish remaining at all before too long.
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