Callum Roberts, professor of marine conservation at York University, predicts that by 2050 we will only be able to meet the fish protein needs of half the world population: all that will be left for the unlucky half may be, as he puts it, 'jellyfish and slime'. Ninety years of industrial-scale exploitation of fish has, he and most scientists agree, led to 'ecological meltdown'. Whole biological food chains have been destroyed.
….Strangely one of the first international attempts to conserve fish stocks, especially for the more easily exploited nations, also became part of the disaster. The United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea, signed in 1979, extended national rights over fisheries to 200 miles from a country's coasts. But it included a provision that, if fish stocks in that zone were surplus to national needs, the country could sell its rights to outsiders. That convention allowed cash-strapped and sometimes corrupt countries in west Africa to raise funds by letting the industrial trawler fleets in. Since 1979 the EU has negotiated deals on fishing rights with a string of impoverished African countries. Despite the EU's own studies indicating massive and quite possibly irreversible damage to fish stocks off west Africa, these deals continue to be struck.