Aussie scientists propose open sea commercial fishing ban

AUSTRALIAN scientists have proposed that the world’s oceans be closed to commercial fishing so that a “fish bank” can be created to ensure the protection of global fish supplies.

The controversial proposal, put forward by an international team of fisheries ecologists would limit fishing to Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) that extend 200 nautical miles (370 km) from a country’s coastline.

The open oceans would therefore be off-limits to commercial fishing operators, a move that would guard against over-fishing and protect current fish stocks.

According to, the co-author of the paper which appeared in the Nature Scientific Reports journal, Professor Reg Watson from the University of Tasmania said: “Based on our analysis, we argue that it would be more equitable, and environmentally and economically sensible to close the high seas to fishing – in effect to turn the high seas into a fish bank for the world.”

Watson said that by determining the difference in the global take of fish that straddle the boundaries of the EEZs and the high seas, closing open water to commercial fisheries would drastically reduce over-fishing in open waters.

“We set out to determine the degree of overlap of fish stocks such as tuna, other highly migratory pelagic species, and deep-sea fishes that straddle the boundaries of national Exclusive Economic Zones and the high seas,” he said.

“Our finding is that closing the high seas could be catch-neutral, and the existing inequality in the distribution of fisheries benefits among the world’s maritime countries could be reduced by 50%.”

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