Fish populations are declining in most parts of the world, but as with other problems, there is a feasible answer. According to Dr Colin Roberts of York University, when fishing is forbidden in about a third of the area of a fishing ground, populations recover – so much so that yields can double in as little as seven years. Speaking at an international conference on marine protected areas in Melbourne in 2005, Dr Roberts said research had established that it was worthwhile for governments to subsidize fishermen while fish stocks recovered in these protection areas. And indeed, in 2003, an earlier conference had advocated protecting a third of the world’s oceans by 2012. The bad news is that barely 1 per cent of marine habitats are so protected, and there has been a major increase in the number of large boats, many registered under flags of convenience, carrying out illegal fishing. Humanity seems determined to maltreat the oceans and their denizens.