A commercial fishing vessel near Morro Bay, California, returning to harbor.Michael L. Baird/Flickr
Fisheries management is actually working, global analysis shows
Friday, January 17, 2020, 00:00 (GMT + 9)
Nearly half of the fish caught worldwide are from stocks that are scientifically monitored and, on average, are increasing in abundance. Effective management appears to be the main reason these stocks are at sustainable levels or successfully rebuilding.
That is the main finding of an international project led by the University of Washington to compile and analyze data from fisheries around the world. The results were published Jan. 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“There is a narrative that fish stocks are declining around the world, that fisheries management is failing and we need new solutions — and it’s totally wrong,” said lead author Ray Hilborn, a professor in the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. “Fish stocks are not all declining around the world. They are increasing in many places, and we already know how to solve problems through effective fisheries management.”
The project builds on a decade-long international collaboration to assemble estimates of the status of fish stocks — or distinct populations of fish — around the world. This information helps scientists and managers know where overfishing is occurring, or where some areas could support even more fishing. Now the team’s database includes information on nearly half of the world’s fish catch, up from about 20% represented in the last compilation in 2009.
“The key is, we want to know how well we are doing, where we need to improve, and what the problems are,” Hilborn said. “Given that most countries are trying to provide long-term sustainable yield of their fisheries, we want to know where we are overfishing, and where there is potential for more yield in places we’re not fully exploiting.”
Since the mid-1990s, catch has generally declined in proportion to decreases in fishing pressure for the fish stocks assessed in the database. By 2005, average biomass of fish stocks had started to increase.
Over the past decade, the research team built a network of collaborators in countries and regions throughout the world, inputting their data on valuable fish populations in places such as the Mediterranean, Peru, Chile, Russia, Japan and northwest Africa. Now about 880 fish stocks are included in the database, giving a much more comprehensive picture worldwide of the health and status of fish populations.
Still, most of the fish stocks in South Asia and Southeast Asia do not have scientific estimates of health and status available. Fisheries in India, Indonesia and China alone represent 30% to 40% of the world’s fish catch that is essentially unassessed.
Source: Michelle Ma/UW News | Read full article here