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Here Is Why You Stop Fishing the High Seas

Aug 31, 2016 02:14 AM EDT
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Warmer waters and overfishing are prime reasons that fish stocks will be significantly lessened in the future, putting coastal communities that depend on the oceans for food at risk.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of British Columbia and published Tuesday in the journal Fish and Fisheries found that if fishing in the high seas ceased, fish in coastal waters could increase by up to 10 percent. High seas include all open water that is not owned by a country and make up about two thirds of the ocean or nearly half of the planet's surface.

"Many important fish stocks live in both the high seas and coastal waters. Effective management of high seas fisheries could benefit coastal waters in terms of productivity and help reduce climate change impacts," lead author and associate professor and director of science of the Nippon Foundation-Nereus Program at UBC's Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries William Cheung said in a release.

Using computer models, the scientists looked at three different fishing management scenarios and the predicted catch of 30 important fish in each scenario. The scenarios included no change to fishing in the high seas, international cooperation to manage the amount of fishing in the high seas and banning fishing in the high seas.

International cooperation and a fishing ban both indicated more fish available in coastal communities to sustain livelihoods and food supplies. Tropical countries especially would benefit, as many are heavily reliant on coastal fishing.

If current trends continue, countries in the South Pacific, Indo-Pacific, West African coast and west coast of central America will possibly see their supply of fish cut by up to 30 percent. Strong action is required to ensure a stable future for these vulnerable communities.

The high seas are also facing widespread pollution problems, most notably floating junk yards comprised mainly of plastic.

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