Industrial fishing in the deep sea should be banned because it has depleted fish stocks that take longer to recover than other species, according to a paper by an international team of marine scientists.
The article, published in the scientific journal Marine Policy, describes fishing operations that have in recent decades targeted the unregulated high seas after stocks near shore were overfished.
Describing the open ocean as "more akin to a watery desert," the scientists argue that vessels have targeted patches of productive areas sequentially, depleting the fish there and destroying deep-sea corals before moving on to new areas.
Certain deep-sea species have gained widespread popularity - including orange roughy and Patagonian toothfish, otherwise known as Chilean sea bass - only to crash within a matter of years.
Elliott Norse, president of the Marine Conservation Institute and the paper's lead author, said the world has turned to deep-sea fishing "out of desperation" without realising fish stocks there take much longer to recover.
As vessels use Global Positioning System devices and trawlers, which scrape massive metal plates across the sea bottom, the catch of deep-water species has increased sevenfold between 1960 and 2004, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.
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