World's fisheries can recover under appropriate management

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Washington, July 31 (ANI): In a new study, an international team of scientists has determined that efforts to rebuild many of the world's fisheries are worthwhile and starting to pay off in many places around the world, thanks to appropriate management.

Their study puts into perspective recent reports predicting a total collapse of global fisheries within 40 years.

Study co-author Mike Fogarty of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) of NOAA's Fisheries Service in Woods Hole, Massachusetts and 20 co-authors say that efforts made to reduce overfishing are succeeding in five of ten large marine ecosystems studied.

Some of the successes noted are in US fisheries.

Despite some good news, the researchers found that 68 percent of the worldwide fisheries examined by the team need rebuilding and that even lower rates of fish removals are needed to reverse the collapse of vulnerable species.

Based on the available data, the team estimated that lightly fished and rebuilding ecosystems account for less than 10 percent of world fisheries area and catch, but represent examples of opportunities for successfully rebuilding marine resources elsewhere.

According to Fogarty, head of the NEFSC's Ecosystems Assessment Program and a specialist in ecosystem based management, finding a balance between fishing and conservation, while difficult, is possible and has been accomplished in a number of fisheries.

"Sometimes small changes have a big effect. It is not a 'one size fits all' management approach since each fishery has its own unique circumstances," said Fogarty, who helped provide data from the US and worked on the analyses that helped shape the report.

"Many of the world's fisheries have a long history of overexploitation. Different management tools are needed, depending on the situation, to restore marine ecosystems and rebuild fisheries. It takes time," he said.

"There have been successes in New Zealand and on the US West Coast, and there are promising solutions in other areas, but rebuilding efforts have to be done on an ecosystem basis and from a global perspective," he added.

The new study follows a controversial prediction that wild caught fish will disappear from the oceans by 2048.

Fisheries scientist Ray Hilborn of the University of Washington in Seattle and others disagreed with the prediction, and a debate ensued between fisheries scientists and marine ecologists about the status of the world's ocean ecosystems.

According to Steve Murawski, chief scientist for NOAA's Fisheries Service, "This study clearly demonstrates that in both developing and developed parts of the world, if fishery exploitation rates are reduced sufficiently, species and their ecosystems have the capacity to recover." (ANI)

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