Global Overfishing Could be Helped by New Indicators

Fisheries-Fishing Techniques-Purse Seining for Small Pelagic Species-

BARNSTABLE — In a new paper published in “Science Advanced,” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers Jason Link and Reg Watson from the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine Antarctic Studies suggested new ways of monitoring and managing overfishing.

They suggest a broader, whole ecosystem-focused approach to monitoring and research, rather than the population-by-population, smaller scale approach that most management uses now.

“In simple terms, to successfully manage fisheries in an ecosystem, the rate of removal for all fishes combined must be equal to or less than the rate of renewal for all those fishes,” said Link.

Link is the senior scientist for ecosystem management at NOAA Fisheries and a former fisheries scientist at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole.

They propose three indices be used to monitor over fishing; total catch in an area, the ratio of total catches to total plant productivity, and the ratio of total catch to chlorophyll—a common measure of marine life.

Link says that many fish populations are shifting either North or South to the poles, though most fishing fleets are not following after.

With more than 35% of the world’s primary source of protein, and 50% for people in the least developed countries, the authors accentuate the importance of the global fishing economy outside just jobs.

The researchers found that the tropics, and particularly Southeast Asia, have the highest proportion of ecosystem overfishing.

Though, temperate regions also have a high level of overfishing, and now must deal with pressure from shifting tropical fish species heading to higher latitudes.

“Even if tropically-oriented fleets were able to shift latitudes and cross claims for marine exclusive economic zones, it remains unclear if temperate regions could absorb shifts from the tropics, given that many temperate regions are also experiencing ecosystem overfishing and catches there have been flat for more than 30 years,” Link said.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native from Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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