Biologists speaking at a symposium in Washington, D.C., this week warn that fundamental assumptions underlying current fisheries management practices may be wrong, resulting in management decisions that threaten the future supply of fish and the long-term survival of some fish populations. The symposium, organized by Steven Berkeley of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Larry Crowder of Duke University Marine Laboratory, is part of the 2005 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
"Much of what we now know about fish populations is not being accounted for in current fisheries management," said Berkeley, a research biologist at UCSCs Long Marine Laboratory.
Berkeleys research on West Coast rockfish, for example, shows that large, old females are far more important than younger fish in maintaining productive fisheries. The larvae produced by these "big, old, fat females" grow faster, resist starvation better, and are much more likely to survive than the offspring of younger fish. Unfortunately, older fish tend to disappear under current fisheries management practices--the old fish get caught and the younger fish never have a chance to grow old.
Tim Stephens | EurekAlert!
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