The ocean is a frontier for sustainable growth. It offers increased food security, economic growth and value-added investment opportunities to nations willing to develop maritime resources without using them up. Yet there is an urgent need to deal directly with declines in the value and harvest of wild-capture fisheries around the world.

Globally, marine fisheries support 260 million jobs, add more than $270 billion to global gross domestic product and provide 3 billion people with nutritious sources of protein. But half of these fisheries produce less seafood, jobs, value and biodiversity than they could otherwise. This is primarily due to perverse incentives, weak laws, poor enforcement, unreported harvests and widespread poaching.

Specific political and economic measures and investments are required to deal with these challenges. Governments need to reduce overfishing, enforce regulations of illegal fishing and enable those with the legal right to manage these resources. There is growing evidence that the benefits of such incremental investments far outweigh the costs. Countries that understand this are taking action.

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Jessica Hathaway is the former editor in chief of National Fisherman.

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