Recent international negotiations have highlighted the need to protect marine diversity on the high seas (the ocean area beyond national jurisdiction). However, restricting fishing access on the high seas raises many concerns, including how such restrictions would affect food security.
This paper analyses high seas catches and trade data to determine the contribution of the high seas catch to global seafood production, the main species caught on the high seas, and the primary markets where these species are sold.
The study shows that only one species of toothfish is caught exclusively on the high seas, that the high seas catch contributes less than 3% to the global seafood supply, and that the vast majority of the marine life caught on the high seas is destined for upscale markets in food-secure countries.
The authors conclude that, on the basis of the available data, high seas fisheries do not make a direct or crucial contribution to global food security.
Schiller L, Bailey M, Sala E (2018) High seas fisheries play a negligible role in addressing global food security. Science Advances 4:eaat8351