Researchers Say Marine Reserves Cheaper Than Fishery Subsidies

A vast, worldwide network of protected marine reserves would cost less than governments are currently spending to subsidize commercial fisheries, reports a group of researchers from the World Wildlife Fund in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Marine reserves encompassing 30 percent of the world’s oceans would cost between $12 billion and $14 billion a year to run, and would generate more than a million jobs, increase the global fish catch, and provide “ecosystem services” (e.g., protecting shores from erosion) worth some $700 billion a year. Lead author Andrew Balmford acknowledged that such a network of reserves would require “international effort on an unprecedented scale” to overcome such hurdles as determining who would pay for the effort and how benefits would be distributed equally among the world’s peoples.