Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Oversimplified Doomsday Prophecy

16.11.2006
The recent article in the journal Science: “Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services” by Worm et al.* has attracted a great deal of media attention. The article extrapolates the negative trend in world fisheries to predict a total collapse by 2048. However, there are good reasons for claiming that the prediction is based on an oversimplified and partly meaningless presentation of the current situation.

Using data from the FAO’s fisheries statistics, the article presents a time-based overview of world fisheries, which shows that 29% of the species that are currently being fished (in 2003) are classified as having collapsed. In the article, “collapse” is defined as when less than 10% of the maximum catch of the species remains – a wrong definition, according to Ole Arve Misund, Research Director at the Institute of Marine Research, who also believes that it is wrong to say that it is species that collapse; rather, it is the fisheries on specific stocks that collapse. There are many examples of species that are still surviving perfectly well in the sea, even though the fisheries that exploit them have collapsed.

The total amount of any given fish species can also vary considerably due to natural causes, as in the case of capelin in the Barents Sea. Fishing of this species has been stopped on three occasions during the past 20 years, because the stock has collapsed due to natural causes.

Natural oscillations not taken into account

The article goes further, with a time-based overview of “cumulative collapses”, which demonstrates that since the 1950s, 65% of the species that are fished have collapsed. On the basis of these figures, the authors extrapolate to a collapse of 100% of all fished species by 2048. This is an oversimplified Doomsday prophecy, first and foremost because it does not take into account natural oscillations which alone may be sufficient to produce reductions of more than 10% in catches from one year to another. “However, we do need to take seriously the possibility that natural oscillations may have been amplified during the past few decades by over-harvesting and the poorer age-group composition of many stocks”, says Head of Research Group Kjell Nedreaas.

In fact, the definition of “cumulative collapses” also includes species and stocks which have been regenerated. For example, the stock of Norwegian spring-spawning herring, which collapsed during the 1970s, has been built up again thanks to a successful management policy, so that within the coming years, the stock will be capable of supporting a sustainable fishery of around 1.3 million tonnes a year!

Developments in world fisheries

The authors’ overview and their use of the concept of “cumulative collapses” thus leaves us with a false impression of how the world’s fisheries are evolving. It is quite true that the global catch of fish has fallen somewhat in recent years, and many stocks have been over-fished, resulting in partial collapse of the fisheries concerned. But many stocks have regenerated and are again providing the basis for large catches. This is a result of ever more comprehensive management measures, such as setting total allowable catches, technical regulations, restrictions on fishing effort, and temporal and spatial restrictions. It is therefore meaningless for the authors to include regenerated stocks as still being in a state of collapse.

For several decades, fisheries management has been based on the precautionary principle, and it is now evolving in the direction of a more highly integrated ecosystem-based process.

The aim is fisheries based on a limited number of target species, and a minimal impact of fisheries on other parts of the ecosystem. This aspect is also emphasised by the authors of the Science article, who find that conservation efforts and improvements in biological diversity should be capable of raising productivity, thus reversing a negative trend, in favour of larger, more stable catches.

Yvonne Robberstad | alfa
Further information:
http://www.imr.no/english/news/news_2006/oversimplified

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>