Kyle Elliott


As of 2011, the Caribbean Sea was one of the only fisheries unoccupied by China’s Distant Water Fleet (DWF). However, in 2016, officials from the People’s Republic of China and the Bahamas discussed a proposal for a bilateral commercial fishing agreement in Bahamian waters. An official agreement was never proposed, but given the notoriety of China’s DFW and the Bahamas’ monitoring and enforcement problems, such an agreement could have devastating impacts on the Caribbean fishery.

The proposal received international criticism from fishermen, scientists, and politicians, demonstrating the perennial conflict between the global commercial fishing industry and those engaged in recreational, sport, or subsistence fishing. In 1982, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) attempted to resolve this conflict by establishing fishery conservation measures. However, these measures are undermined by concepts such as maximum sustainable yield and optimum utilization, which prioritize the market value of a fishery’s resources over its recreational value. As the global commercial fishing industry begins to converge on one of the last fishing frontiers, the United States must shift how the world views fishery management. This article will discuss how stakeholders to the agreement can use both legal principles and non-legal incentives to induce the Bahamas to remain a sport fishing haven and support its artisanal fishing industry.

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