Global map of the predicted distribution of gains or losses in total marine fisheries landed values, if the high seas are closed to fishing. Based on a scenario where the catch of straddling taxa increase by 18 percent following a high-seas closure. Current landed value is the product of catch and ex-vessel price. Catch data were extracted from the 'Sea Around Us' global catch database ( while ex-vessel prices were obtained from Sumaila, et al. 2007 and Swartz et al., 2013. The annual catch of straddling taxa by each fishing country was projected to increase by 18 percent under the high-seas closure scenario, whereas the catch of non-straddling taxa remains unchanged. Countries with negative and positive change in landed values were labelled 'Loss' and 'Gain' in the map, respectively. Graphic: Sumaila, et al., 2015

14 February 2015 (Canada Journal) – A team of British Columbia-led researchers believe banning fishing in international waters would help protect fish stocks and boost coastal economies.

The analysis of fisheries data indicates that if increased spillover of fish stocks from protected international waters were to boost coastal catches by 18 per cent, current global catches would be maintained. When the researchers modeled less conservative estimates of stock spillover, catches in coastal waters surpassed current global levels.

“We should use international waters as the world’s fish bank,” says Rashid Sumaila, director of the UBC Fisheries Economics Research Unit and lead author of the study. “Restricting fisheries activities to coastal waters is economically and environmentally sensible, particularly as the industry faces diminishing returns.”

The findings appeared today in Scientific Reports, published by Nature Publishing Group and will be presented February 13 at the 2015 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

The study also indicates that a high-seas moratorium would improve fisheries income distribution among maritime nations. Currently, 10 high seas fishing nations capture 71 per cent of the landed value of catches in international waters.

Under all scenarios considered by the researchers, European Member States, Group of Eight nations, and least developed fishing nations would benefit the most from a closure. Under a catch-neutral scenario, the United States, Guam, and the United Kingdom would benefit the most, each with potential increases in landed values of more than $250 million (USD) per year. Canada would see an increase of $125 million (USD) per year. [more]

Scientists propose high seas fishing moratorium

ABSTRACT: Fishing takes place in the high seas and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of maritime countries. Closing the former to fishing has recently been proposed in the literature and is currently an issue of debate in various international fora. We determine the degree of overlap between fish caught in these two areas of the ocean, examine how global catch might change if catches of straddling species or taxon groups increase within EEZs as a result of protection of adjacent high seas; and identify countries that are likely to gain or lose in total catch quantity and value following high-seas closure. We find that <0.01% of the quantity and value of commercial fish taxa are obtained from catch taken exclusively in the high seas, and if the catch of straddling taxa increases by 18% on average following closure because of spillover, there would be no loss in global catch. The Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, would decrease from 0.66 to 0.33. Thus, closing the high seas could be catch-neutral while inequality in the distribution of fisheries benefits among the world's maritime countries could be reduced by 50%.

Winners and losers in a world where the high seas is closed to fishing



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