Report supports shutdown of all high seas fisheries

Jun 05, 2014
UBC’s Rashid Sumaila argues that the high seas should be closed to all fishing. Credit: Martin Dee

Fish and aquatic life living in the high seas are more valuable as a carbon sink than as food and should be better protected, according to research from the University of British Columbia.

The study found fish and remove 1.5 billion tonnes of from the atmosphere every year, a service valued at about $148 billion US. This dwarfs the $16 billion US paid for 10 million tonnes of fish caught on the high seas annually.

"Countries around the world are struggling to find cost effective ways to reduce their ," says Rashid Sumaila, director of the UBC Fisheries Economics Research Unit. "We've found that the high seas are a natural system that is doing a of it for free."

Sumaila helped calculate the economic value of the carbon stored by life in the high seas by applying prices—which include the benefits of mitigating the costs of climate change—to the annual quantity of carbon absorbed.

The report argues that the high seas—defined as an area more than 200 nautical miles from any coast and outside of national jurisdiction—should be closed to all fishing as only one per cent of fish caught annually are exclusively found there.

"Keeping fish in the high seas gives us more value than catching them," says Sumaila. "If we lose the life in the high seas, we'll have to find another way to reduce emissions at a much higher cost."

Explore further: Oceans worth up to $222 bln annually in CO2 capture

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Numbers back high seas fishing ban

Feb 27, 2014

Fishing the high seas is a losing investment, an economist told political leaders, corporate kings and environmental warriors Wednesday, backing calls for protecting the open seas.

Overfishing threatens Pacific tuna

Dec 02, 2012

Asia-Pacific fishing experts on Sunday warned against depleting tuna stocks, saying the region needs to reduce its catch of the vulnerable bigeye species by 30 percent.

Recommended for you

Putting a value on what nature does for us

Sep 12, 2014

A new online resource, developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge in collaboration with other organisations based in Cambridge, helps those in both the public and private sector see how changes ...

Lessons for saving our forests

Sep 12, 2014

In late July, UC Berkeley fire ecologist Scott Stephens was working in Stanislaus National Forest, gathering data on how a century had altered its character. What he saw were the signs of a clear and present ...

User comments : 0