Monday, April 27, 2009

Call for 20-year fishing ban in a third of oceans

Guardian (UK): One third of the world's oceans must be closed to fishing for 20 years if depleted stocks are to recover, scientists and conservation groups have warned. Callum Roberts, professor of marine conservation at the University of York, has reviewed 100 scientific papers identifying the scale of closure needed. "All are leaning in a similar direction," he said, "which is that 20-40% of the sea should be protected."

Friends of the Earth, the Marine Conservation Society and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds all support the idea of a 30% closure. The proposal comes in the wake of a green paper calling for radical reform of the common fisheries policy, which EU ministers admit has failed. It reveals that 88% of European Union stocks are overfished (against a global average of 25%), while 30% are "outside safe biological limits", meaning they cannot reproduce as normal because the parenting population is too depleted.

The European Commission suggests a reduction in fleet size and a dramatic cut in fishing among its series of measures, but Roberts believes these will not work without the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs).

"If we are ever going to have sustainable fisheries, MPA networks are essential," he said. In Iceland, Canada and the US, MPAs have "brought real increases in fish populations and real recovery of seabed habitats", he added….

Commercial fisherman catching cod and halibut off the coast of Alaska, sometime before 1927

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