UN Fish Stocks Review Opens with Dire Outlook

Publication: Washington Post

Author: John Heilprin


05/24/2010 - Environmentalists and scientists warned of collapsing fish stocks and tiny Pacific nation Palau sounded the alarm for sharks as diplomats Monday launched a weeklong review of high seas fisheries.

The international conference will "take a hard look" at how to put some teeth in a 1995 United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement, according to conference chairman David Balton, a U.S. deputy assistant secretary for oceans and fisheries.

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Susan Lieberman, international policy director for the Pew Environment Group, pointed to two independent, peer-reviewed studies saying governments have been ineffective at improving she called "the deplorable state of fisheries on the high seas." Both were published in journals online, one in Science, the other in Marine Policy, to coincide with this week's U.N. conference.

She also cited U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that three-quarters of the world's fish stocks on the high seas are overfished.

"The key is not to focus on the numbers so much as the fact that if we extrapolate these data the estimates are that global fisheries will crash, completely crash, by 2050, in little more than one generation," said Lieberman.

"We're talking about the very future of food security on our planet, and the very future of our oceans," she said. "And, in particular, this has tremendous impacts for coastal communities and developing countries."

Read the full article, UN Fish Stocks Review Opens with Dire Outlook, on the Washington Post's Web site (requires registration).

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