Study: Sea Protection Costs Less Than Fish Subsidies
Mon Jun 14, 6:14 PM ET
By Ed Stoddard
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -

Protecting the world's oceans will cost governments far less than the
amount they spend on subsidies for fishing fleets and will lead to
bigger catches in the long run, according to a new study.
The study, by conservation group WWF International and Britain's
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, estimates that a network
of marine protected areas (MPAs) covering 30 percent of Earth's
oceans would cost $12-14 billion annually.
It says this falls far short of the $15-30 billion already spent each
year on subsidies to commercial fisheries, which environmentalists
say encourages overfishing.
The study was published on Monday in the U.S. journal Proceedings of
the National Academy of Sciences (news - web sites).
"MPAs turn around fisheries and build up (fish) populations in
adjacent areas," said Callum Roberts, one of the study's authors who
is a fisheries biologist at the University of York in England.
"In St. Lucia in the Caribbean, fish catches increased by 50 to 100
percent as a consequence of MPAs created in 1995," he told Reuters by
telephone from his UK office.
Roberts said priority areas included tropical coral reef systems,
which are threatened by overfishing and climate change.
MINISCULE PORTION OF SEA UNDER PROTECTION
According to WWF, only 0.5 percent of the sea is under protection,
compared to 12 percent of the planet's land area.
But the study says increasing marine protection to 30 percent of the
global total would cost less than the subsidies that are splashed out
on fishing fleets.