Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ocean Fisheries Desperately Need New Management Structures

Date:
July 28, 1997
Source:
University Of California, Davis
Summary:
While better scientific analyses may help reduce worldwide overfishing and depletion of many ocean fish species, new management systems must be instituted to shield global marine fisheries from the political pressures to over-fish, according to a team of scientists led by a researcher at the University of California, Davis.

July 24, 1997

Related Articles


OCEAN FISHERIES DESPERATELY NEED NEW MANAGEMENT STRUCTURES

While better scientific analyses may help reduce worldwideoverfishing and depletion of many ocean fish species, newmanagement systems must be instituted to shield global marinefisheries from the political pressures to over-fish,according to a team of scientists led by a researcher at theUniversity of California, Davis.

In a paper appearing in the July 25 issue of the journalScience, the researchers suggest that the major cause ofoverfishing is political pressure to protect jobs and sustainshort-term profits by increasing the fish harvests. Theeconomic justification for bigger harvests prevails, in part,because it is inherently difficult to predict future fishpopulations.

"The challenge for the next century lies in crafting newlocal and regional institutions, not just in filling thescientific gaps," said Louis W. Botsford, a wildlife andfisheries biologist at UC Davis. "The best hope for greatersustainability of fisheries is to insulate management frompressures for greater harvest, while attempting to reduceuncertainty through a comprehensive ecosystem view."

Collaborating on the study with Botsford were Juan CarlosCastilla of the Pontificia Universidad Catσlica de Chile inSantiago, Chile, and Charles H. Peterson of the University ofNorth Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Ocean fish provide an important source of food, accountingfor 19 percent of all animal protein eaten by humans.Furthermore, they are the basis for an industry thatemployees 200 million people worldwide and produces an annualcatch valued at $70 billion.

But fisheries around the world, including many in the UnitedStates, are in trouble, note Botsford and colleagues. Theypoint to a recent report by the United Nations Food andAgriculture Organization indicating that global fisheries inthe 1990s are leveling off at about 100 million tons caughtannually. And nearly half of the individual commercial fishspecies are fully exploited, while another 22 percent areover-exploited. Recent examples of overfishing include thecollapse of the cod and haddock populations off of the EastCoast of the United States and Canada.

Perhaps this sorry state of affairs should come as nosurprise. Marine ecosystems --ranging from coastal to deep-sea communities of fish, mammals, turtles, birds and plantlife -- are complex. They are directly impacted not only byhuman enterprises, such as fishing and pollution-producingactivities, but also by large-scale fluctuations in weatherand climate. Fisheries scientists have long been concernedwith annual changes in weather and physical oceanographicconditions, but in recent years they have come to realizethat periodic long-term changes also have profound influenceseven on fish stocks that are separated by great distances.

One such example is the El Niρo-Southern Oscillation, awarming of the waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean thatoccurs every five to 10 years. (Scientists believe we are atthe beginning of another large El Niρo.) Another example isthe warming of waters off of Alaska in 1976, believed to havetriggered important biological changes that are still ineffect, including an increase in the Alaskan salmon catch anda drop in salmon catches from California waters.

Clearly, the undersea worlds are a challenge to probe andeven more perplexing to wisely manage. While betterunderstanding of the physical variabilities, such as thelarge-scale weather and climate shifts, will yield sounderinformation on which to base management decisions, thepolitical pressures on fisheries management still must bealleviated, Botsford stressed.

"Most overfishing is due to the 'ratchet-effect,' whichoccurs when -- faced with the inherent uncertainties ofpredicting future fish populations -- fisheries managers bendto socio-political pressure to provide jobs and profits forthe fishing industry, leading to greater harvests of fishthan are prudent," he said.

Structurally, fisheries management might be improved bygiving commercial fishers a greater vested interest in thelong-term health of the fisheries. This could be done byoffering them individual transferable quotas or greaterinvolvement in fisheries management. Botsford and colleaguesacknowledge that this would be more difficult at thecorporate level than in small-scale coastal fishingoperations. It would be particularly difficult ininternational fisheries, where existing institutionalstructures and cultural differences don't encouragecooperation.

The researchers suggest that several changes in the way marinefisheries are managed would improve sustainability, regardlessof improvements in marine science. First, they urge adoptionof the precautionary approach to fisheries management, whichwould translate into lower levels of fish harvests unlessscientific evidence clearly demonstrates that higher catchrates are warranted.

Secondly, Botsford and colleagues suggest establishing marinerefuges that are off-limits to fishing in order to protectportions of exploited fish populations and allow thosepopulations to rebuild themselves.

And finally, they advocate more liberal use of closures andfishing moratoria to protect declining fish populations orstressed ecosystems before, instead of after, a fishpopulation collapses.

The fisheries management study was funded by the PewCharitable Trust, the Center for Marine Conservation, theU.S. Global Ocean Ecosystems program and Sea Grant.

Media contact:-- Louis Botsford, Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, (916) 752-6169-- Patricia Bailey, News Service, (916) 752-9843, [email protected]

-------------------------------------------------More university news and an experts directory:http://www-news.ucdavis.edu/PubComm/-------------------------------------------------UC Davis News Service; Davis, California(916) 752-1930, [email protected]-------


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California, Davis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California, Davis. "Ocean Fisheries Desperately Need New Management Structures." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 July 1997. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/07/970728061326.htm>.
University Of California, Davis. (1997, July 28). Ocean Fisheries Desperately Need New Management Structures. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/07/970728061326.htm
University Of California, Davis. "Ocean Fisheries Desperately Need New Management Structures." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/07/970728061326.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) — Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) — A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) — The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins