Australian Beth Fulton, a fishery ecosystem scientist from the CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship, was among an international team of 19 co-authors of a report on a two-year study, led by US scientists Dr Boris Worm of Dalhousie University and Dr Ray Hilborn of the University of Washington.
The study shows that steps taken to curb overfishing are beginning to succeed in five of the 10 large marine ecosystems they examined. The paper, which appears in the 31 July issue of the journal Science, provides new hope for rebuilding troubled fisheries.
The study had two goals: to examine current trends in fish abundance and exploitation rates (the proportion of fish taken out of the sea) and to identify which tools managers have applied in their efforts to rebuild depleted fish stocks.
The work is a significant leap forward because it reveals that the rate of fishing has been reduced in several regions around the world, resulting in some stock recovery. Moreover, it bolsters the case that sound management can contribute to the rebuilding of fisheries elsewhere.
It is ‘good news’ for several regions in the US, Iceland and New Zealand.
“These highly managed ecosystems are improving,” says Dr Hilborn. “Yet there is still a long way to go: of all fish stocks that we examined 63 per cent remained below target and still needed to be rebuilt.”
According to Dr Worm, there is still a troubling trend of increasing stock collapse across all regions.
“But this paper shows that our oceans are not a lost cause,” Dr Worm says.
“We are seeing recovery in overall ecosystem structure, even if some species aren’t fully recovered yet.”
Dr Beth Fulton“The encouraging result is that the exploitation rate – the ultimate driver of depletion and collapse – is decreasing in half of the 10 systems we examined in detail. This means that management in those areas is setting the stage for ecological and economic recovery. It’s only a start but it gives me hope that we have the ability to bring overfishing under control.”
The authors caution that their analysis is mostly confined to intensively managed fisheries in developed countries, where scientific data on fish abundance is collected. They also point out that some excess fishing effort is simply displaced to countries with weaker laws and enforcement capacity.
Dr Fulton used the ecosystem models Atlantis and Ecosim to analyse ecosystem recovery in 31 fisheries worldwide, 10 in detail, including Australia’s Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery.
She says a combination of management measures has been adopted in Australia’s commonwealth fisheries in the past decade to reduce pressures on fishery ecosystems.
These intensive efforts involved cooperation between fishery scientists, managers and industry. Management measures included catch quotas coupled with strategically placed fishing closures, ocean zoning, selective fishing gear, community co-management and economic incentives (such as individual transferable quotas).
“Exploitation rates have more than halved since the early 1990s,” Dr Fulton says. “This means that management is setting the stage for ecological and economic recovery.
“As a result we are seeing recovery in overall ecosystem structure, even if some species aren’t fully recovered yet.
“But we can’t rest on our laurels. Management methods need to be tailored to particular fisheries and regions and also need to change through time as the system changes.”
Dr Fulton says surveys conducted up to the mid-1990s showed signs of recovery in ecosystem structure in the North West Shelf region of Western Australia, although some species groups had not fully recovered.
National Research Flagships
CSIRO initiated the National Research Flagships to provide science-based solutions in response to Australia’s major research challenges and opportunities. The 10 Flagships form multidisciplinary teams with industry and the research community to deliver impact and benefits for Australia.
Bryony Bennett | EurekAlert!
Minimized water consumption in CSP plants - EU project MinWaterCSP is making good progress
05.12.2017 | Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum
Jena Experiment: Loss of species destroys ecosystems
28.11.2017 | Technische Universität München
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications
Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...
Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.
The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences
11.12.2017 | Information Technology