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Debris flies into the air as foreign fishing boats are blown up by Indonesia’s navy off Batam Island, Indonesia, Feb. 22, 2016 (AP photo by M. Urip).

The Next Resource War May Be Over Illegal Fishing. Is the U.S. Ready?

Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017

This summer, the USS Gerald R. Ford, the first of three new aircraft carriers replacing the aging Nimitz-class supercarriers from the Cold War, was delivered to the United States Navy. This 100,000-ton behemoth—expected to serve the country for more than 50 years—stands ready to fight America’s wars, deter foreign aggression and maintain freedom of navigation at sea. Recent developments in global affairs suggest that the new aircraft carriers and the broader U.S. Navy will face a more comprehensive mission, one that is also pivotal to U.S. and global security: fighting those who are stealing natural resources from the world’s oceans.

Today, major powers are ignoring the international laws and norms that guide the harvesting of fish. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, every fifth fish is caught illegally. As a result, countries have begun using military force to protect what they believe to be critical national assets. This is a recipe for disaster, with the potential to give rise to another entry on the long list of wars fought over natural resources. ...

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