Silent Seas: Smart Controls Could Rescue Depleted Fisheries

The world's fisheries continue to collapse, although smart controls could help

We are emptying the oceans of fish faster than most species can repopulate themselves. Proven management practices such as conservative catch limits, restrictions on fishing days or gear, and closing certain areas to fishing for years at a time have helped some depleted stocks recover, however. Political will to impose best practices is the key. International waters are poorly policed. In many national waters, scientists establish sustainable limits, but then for commercial or political reasons, “regulators decide those are not commercially high enough and raise them,” says Boris Worm, a biologist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Illegal fishing raises the catch totals even higher.

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