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Briefing paper

Saving the South China Sea fishery: time to internationalise

30 Jun 2017

The South China Sea fishery is being depleted at an unsustainable rate and in a destructive manner.

Key points:

  • Twelve per cent of the global fish catch comes from the South China Sea, but that fishery is headed for collapse.
  • This will have important national security implications for regional countries and Australia. Ensuing security tensions will be exacerbated by fishing nationalism.
  • Establishing a sovereignty neutral international fisheries management regime could resolve this and encourage habits of cooperation amongst claimants.
  • Consumer states and civil society will need to play a role to achieve this.

Policy recommendations:

  • Australia should support the establishment of a regional fisheries management organisation to preserve the fish stocks of the South China Sea.
  • Australia should offer practical support on fisheries management to regional countries.
  • Civil society should promote, and governments support, greater transparency and awareness on fishing practices and marine degradation in the region.
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