This idea was originally put forward by Enric Sala who is an explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society (based in Washington, DC)
I think this is an excellent idea which I read about in the January-February 2012 issue of the Harvard Business Review. The consumption of fish by humans is now greater than the rate at which they can reproduce.
In the past efforts to solve this problem have included such ideas as placing limit quotas on the number of fish fishermen can catch and lower industry subsidies.
This idea is to make 20% or more of the ocean completely off-limits. From research taken from 124 reserves in 29 countries when this is done the number of species in fish banks increases by 21% on average and it also results in 28% bigger fish. In a 10-year period, the total weight of fish increases to over 446%.
Other positive side effects include the rejuvenation of adjacent areas and higher reproduction rates. Fishermen who fish next to such reserves see a significant increase in their catches over a five-year period. Also, reserves increase tourism.
It is suggested that these positive effects should more than offset the financial losses to fishermen caused by the creation of no-fishing zones.
This is thought to be an inexpensive solution to a global problem.
“Public-private partnerships would be an effective way of getting this idea to scale quickly. Companies might be willing to invest in fish banks, covering short-term profits from larger catches, more tourism, and blue-carbon projects. Creating fish banks would thus turn fishing populations from hunters into shepherds of the sea, who help protect Earth’s biggest asset, the ocean.”
For further details of this excellent idea, please refer to page 52 of the January-February 2012 edition of Harvard Business Review.