The economics and geopolitics of global fisheries

South Korean Coast Guard chases Chinese fishermen violating territorial waters
Nov. 20, 2017: A Coast Guard cutter launches speedboats to round up Chinese trawlers encroaching on South Korean territorial waters off Gunsan (source: dpa)
  • Illegal fishing continues to deplete world fish stocks, a crucial source of food
  • Traditional management of international waters has failed to resolve the problem
  • New regulatory methods, such as individual transferable quotas, might work better

One natural resource that was once plentiful but has now been declining for decades is ocean fish. The figures are alarming. According to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 31 percent of global stocks are fished at biologically unsustainable levels (overfished), while 58 percent are fully exploited. In consequence, ocean and sea catches have stagnated for three decades, at about 85 million tons a year, with some fisheries having experienced a sharp decline in both the quantity and quality of catches. Water pollution along coastal areas is part of the explanation, but the main culprit is overfishing.

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