The fishing industry has been important to many nations of the world since mankind first sailed the ocean. The diets and economies of many nations are still inextricably linked to the sea. Prior to 1900, the international fishing fleets were guided only by the principle of "catch-as-catch-can." Demand seemed relatively light when contrasted with the seemingly endless supply, and fishing had little effect on the international stock of fish. In addition, the gain to be realized by restricting access and extending jurisdictional claims over the ocean was slight in comparison to the costs of enforcing an exclusive access system. The development of new technology since 1900, however, has rendered ocean surveillance cost efficient, and larger populations and increased technical capabilities have caused a dramatic increase in the world demand for fish products resulting in tremendous pressure on the fisheries of the oceans. "It has been estimated that the worldwide harvest of these resources has increased fifteenfold" since the beginning of the twentieth century.
Kindt, John Warren
"The Law of the Sea: Anadromous and Catadromous Fish Stocks, Sedentary Species, and the Highly Migratory Species,"
Syracuse Journal of International Law and Commerce: Vol. 11
, Article 3.
Available at: http://surface.syr.edu/jilc/vol11/iss1/3