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Sustainable fisheries

Sustainable fisheries

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Sustainability
Sustainability
Sustainability is the capacity to endure. For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of union, an interdependent relationship and mutual responsible position with all living and non...

 in fisheries combines theoretical disciplines, such as the population dynamics of fisheries
Population dynamics of fisheries
A fishery is an area with an associated fish or aquatic population which is harvested for its commercial or recreational value. Fisheries can be wild or farmed. Population dynamics describes the ways in which a given population grows and shrinks over time, as controlled by birth, death, and...

, with practical strategies, such as avoiding overfishing
Overfishing
Overfishing occurs when fishing activities reduce fish stocks below an acceptable level. This can occur in any body of water from a pond to the oceans....

 through techniques such as individual fishing quotas, curtailing destructive
Destructive fishing practices
The phrase destructive fishing practices has been featured in international fisheries literature for around three decades. No widely accepted definition of the phrase exists, and this will almost certainly remain the situation, given very different national and industry perspectives...

 and illegal fishing practices
Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing
Illegal fishing takes place where vessels operate in violation of the laws of a fishery. This can apply to fisheries that are under the jurisdiction of a coastal state or to high seas fisheries regulated by regional organisations....

 by lobbying for appropriate law and policy, setting up protected areas, restoring collapsed fisheries, incorporating all externalities involved in harvesting marine ecosystems into fishery economics, educating stakeholders and the wider public, and developing independent certification programs.

The primary concern around sustainability is that heavy fishing pressures, such as overexploitation
Overexploitation
Overexploitation, also called overharvesting, refers to harvesting a renewable resource to the point of diminishing returns. Sustained overexploitation can lead to the destruction of the resource...

 and growth or recruitment
Recruitment (biology)
In biology, recruitment occurs when juvenile organisms survive to be added to a population. The term is generally used to refer to a stage whereby the organisms are settled and able to be detected by an observer....

 overfishing
Overfishing
Overfishing occurs when fishing activities reduce fish stocks below an acceptable level. This can occur in any body of water from a pond to the oceans....

, will result in the loss of significant potential yield
Sustainable yield
The sustainable yield of natural capital is the ecological yield that can be extracted without reducing the base of capital itself, i.e. the surplus required to maintain ecosystem services at the same or increasing level over time. This yield usually varies over time with the needs of the...

; that stock
Fish stock
Fish stocks are subpopulations of a particular species of fish, for which intrinsic parameters are the only significant factors in determining population dynamics, while extrinsic factors are considered to be insignificant.-The stock concept:All species have geographic limits to their...

 structure will erode to the point where it loses diversity and resilience to environmental fluctuations; that ecosystems and their economic infrastructures will cycle between collapse and recovery; with each cycle less productive than its predecessor; and that changes will occur in the trophic
Trophic level
The trophic level of an organism is the position it occupies in a food chain. The word trophic derives from the Greek τροφή referring to food or feeding. A food chain represents a succession of organisms that eat another organism and are, in turn, eaten themselves. The number of steps an organism...

 balance (fishing down marine food webs).

Overview


Global wild fisheries are believed to have peaked and begun a decline, with valuable habitats, such as estuaries and coral reef
Coral reef
Coral reefs are underwater structures made from calcium carbonate secreted by corals. Coral reefs are colonies of tiny living animals found in marine waters that contain few nutrients. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, which in turn consist of polyps that cluster in groups. The polyps...

s, in critical condition. Current aquaculture
Aquaculture
Aquaculture, also known as aquafarming, is the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic plants. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, and can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is the...

 or farming of piscivorous fish, such as salmon
Salmon
Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the same family are called trout; the difference is often said to be that salmon migrate and trout are resident, but this distinction does not strictly hold true...

, does not solve the problem because farmed piscivores are fed products from wild fish, such as forage fish
Forage fish
Forage fish, also called prey fish or bait fish, are small fish which are preyed on by larger predators for food. Predators include other larger fish, seabirds and marine mammals. Typical ocean forage fish feed near the base of the food chain on plankton, often by filter feeding...

. Salmon farming
Aquaculture of salmon
Salmon, along with carp, are the two most important fish groups in aquaculture. In 2007, the aquaculture of salmon and salmon trout was worth US$10.7 billion. The most commonly farmed salmon is the Atlantic salmon. Other commonly farmed fish groups include tilapia, catfish, sea bass, bream and...

 also has major negative impacts on wild salmon. Fish that occupy the higher trophic level
Trophic level
The trophic level of an organism is the position it occupies in a food chain. The word trophic derives from the Greek τροφή referring to food or feeding. A food chain represents a succession of organisms that eat another organism and are, in turn, eaten themselves. The number of steps an organism...

s are less efficient sources of food energy.

Fishery ecosystems are an important subset of the wider marine environment. This article documents the views of fisheries scientists
Fisheries science
Fisheries science is the academic discipline of managing and understanding fisheries. It is a multidisciplinary science, which draws on the disciplines of oceanography, marine biology, marine conservation, ecology, population dynamics, economics and management to attempt to provide an integrated...

 and marine conservation
Marine conservation
Marine conservation, also known as marine resources conservation, is the protection and preservation of ecosystems in oceans and seas. Marine conservation focuses on limiting human-caused damage to marine ecosystems, and on restoring damaged marine ecosystems...

ists about innovative approaches towards sustainable fisheries.

History


In his 1883 inaugural address to the International Fisheries Exhibition in London, Thomas Huxley
Thomas Huxley
Thomas Henry Huxley PC FRS was an English biologist, known as "Darwin's Bulldog" for his advocacy of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution....

 asserted that overfishing or "permanent exhaustion" was scientifically impossible, and stated that probably "all the great sea fisheries are inexhaustible". In reality, by 1883 marine fisheries were already collapsing. The United States Fish Commission
United States Fish Commission
The United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries was established on February 9, 1871 , as an independent commission with a mandate to investigate the causes for the decrease of commercial fish and aquatic animals in U.S...

 was established 12 years earlier for the purpose of finding why fisheries in New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

 were declining. At the time of Huxley's address, the Atlantic halibut
Halibut
Halibut is a flatfish, genus Hippoglossus, from the family of the right-eye flounders . Other flatfish are also called halibut. The name is derived from haly and butt , for its popularity on Catholic holy days...

 fishery had already collapsed (and has never recovered).

Traditional management of fisheries


Traditionally, fisheries management
Fisheries management
Fisheries management draws on fisheries science in order to find ways to protect fishery resources so sustainable exploitation is possible. Modern fisheries management is often referred to as a governmental system of appropriate management rules based on defined objectives and a mix of management...

 and the science underpinning it was distorted by its "narrow focus on target populations
Population dynamics of fisheries
A fishery is an area with an associated fish or aquatic population which is harvested for its commercial or recreational value. Fisheries can be wild or farmed. Population dynamics describes the ways in which a given population grows and shrinks over time, as controlled by birth, death, and...

 and the corresponding failure to account for ecosystem effects leading to declines of species abundance and diversity" and by perceiving the fishing industry as "the sole legitimate user, in effect the owner, of marine living resources." Historically, stock assessment scientists usually worked in government laboratories and considered their work to be providing services to the fishing industry. These scientists dismissed conservation issues and distanced themselves from the scientists and the science that raised the issues. This happened even as commercial fish stocks deteriorated, and even though many governments were signatories to binding conservation agreements.

Defining sustainability


The notion of sustainable development
Sustainable development
Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use, that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come...

 is sometimes regarded as an unattainable, even illogical notion because development inevitably depletes and degrades the environment.

Ray Hilborn
Ray Hilborn
Ray Hilborn is a marine biologist and fisheries scientist, known for his work on conservation and natural resource management in the context of fisheries.He is currently professor of aquatic and fishery science at the University of Washington...

, of the University of Washington
University of Washington
University of Washington is a public research university, founded in 1861 in Seattle, Washington, United States. The UW is the largest university in the Northwest and the oldest public university on the West Coast. The university has three campuses, with its largest campus in the University...

, distinguishes three ways of defining a sustainable fishery.
  • Long term constant yield is the idea that undisturbed nature establishes a steady state that changes little over time. Properly done, fishing at up to maximum sustainable yield
    Maximum sustainable yield
    In population ecology and economics, maximum sustainable yield or MSY is, theoretically, the largest yield that can be taken from a species' stock over an indefinite period...

     allows nature to adjust to a new steady state, without compromising future harvests. However, this view is naive, because constancy is not an attribute of marine ecosystems, which dooms this approach. Stock abundance fluctuates naturally, changing the potential yield over short and long term periods.

  • Preserving intergenerational equity acknowledges natural fluctuations and regards as unsustainable only practices which damage the gene
    Gene
    A gene is a molecular unit of heredity of a living organism. It is a name given to some stretches of DNA and RNA that code for a type of protein or for an RNA chain that has a function in the organism. Living beings depend on genes, as they specify all proteins and functional RNA chains...

    tic structure destroy habitat, or deplete stock levels
    Fish stock
    Fish stocks are subpopulations of a particular species of fish, for which intrinsic parameters are the only significant factors in determining population dynamics, while extrinsic factors are considered to be insignificant.-The stock concept:All species have geographic limits to their...

     to the point where rebuilding requires more than a single generation. Providing rebuilding takes only one generation, overfishing
    Overfishing
    Overfishing occurs when fishing activities reduce fish stocks below an acceptable level. This can occur in any body of water from a pond to the oceans....

     may be economically foolish, but it is not unsustainable. This definition is widely accepted.

  • Maintaining a biological, social and economic system considers the health of the human ecosystem as well as the marine ecosystem. A fishery which rotates among multiple species can deplete individual stocks and still be sustainable so long as the ecosystem retains its intrinsic integrity. Such a definition might consider as sustainable fishing practices that lead to the reduction and possible extinction of some species.

Social sustainability


Fisheries and aquaculture are, directly or indirectly, a source of livelihood for over 500 million people, mostly in developing countries. While biodiversity is important, people need food security
Food security
Food security refers to the availability of food and one's access to it. A household is considered food-secure when its occupants do not live in hunger or fear of starvation. According to the World Resources Institute, global per capita food production has been increasing substantially for the past...

.

Social sustainability can conflict with biodiversity. A fishery is socially sustainable if the fishery ecosystem maintains the ability to deliver products the society can use. Major species shifts within the ecosystem could be acceptable as long as the flow of such products continues. Humans have been operating such regimes for thousands of years, transforming many ecosystems, depleting or driving to extinction many species.
According to Hilborn, the "loss of some species, and indeed transformation of the ecosystem is not incompatible with sustainable harvests." For example, in recent years, barndoor skate
Barndoor skate
The barndoor skate, Dipturus laevis, is a species of marine cartilaginous fish in the skate family of the order Rajiformes. It is native to the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, and is found from the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and the southern side of the Gulf of St. Lawrence south to North Carolina...

s have been caught as bycatch
Bycatch
The term “bycatch” is usually used for fish caught unintentionally in a fishery while intending to catch other fish. It may however also indicate untargeted catch in other forms of animal harvesting or collecting...

 in the western Atlantic. Their numbers have severely declined and they will probably go extinct if these catch rates continue. Even if the barndoor skate goes extinct, changing the ecosystem, there could still be sustainable fishing of other commercial species.

Reconciling fisheries with conservation


At the Fourth World Fisheries Congress in 2004, Daniel Pauly
Daniel Pauly
Daniel Pauly is a French-born marine biologist, well-known for his work in studying human impacts on global fisheries. He is a professor and the project leader of the Sea Around Us Project at the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia. He also served as Director of the Fisheries...

 asked, "How can fisheries science and conservation biology achieve a reconciliation?", then answered his own question, "By accepting each other’s
essentials: that fishing should remain a viable occupation; and that aquatic ecosystems and their biodiversity are allowed to persist."

Overfishing



Overfishing can be sustainable. According to Hilborn, overfishing can be "a misallocation of societies' resources", but it does not necessarily threaten conservation or sustainability".

Overfishing
Overfishing
Overfishing occurs when fishing activities reduce fish stocks below an acceptable level. This can occur in any body of water from a pond to the oceans....

 is traditionally defined as harvesting so many fish that the yield is less than it would be if fishing were reduced. For example, Pacific salmon are usually managed by trying to determine how many spawning salmon, called the "escapement
Escapement
In mechanical watches and clocks, an escapement is a device that transfers energy to the timekeeping element and enables counting the number of oscillations of the timekeeping element...

", are needed each generation to produce the maximum harvestable surplus. The optimum escapement is that needed to reach that surplus. If the escapement is half the optimum, then normal fishing looks like overfishing. But this is still sustainable fishing, which could continue indefinitely at its reduced stock numbers and yield. There is a wide range of escapement sizes that present no threat that the stock might collapse or that the stock structure might erode.

On the other hand, overfishing can precede severe stock depletion and fishery collapse. Hilborn points out that continuing to exert fishing pressure while production decreases, stock collapses and the fishery fails, is largely "the product of institutional failure."

Today over 70% of fish species are either fully exploited, overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion. If overfishing does not decrease, it is predicted that stocks of all species currently commercially fished for will collapse by 2048.”

A Hubbert linearization (Hubbert curve
Hubbert curve
The Hubbert curve is an approximation of the production rate of a resource over time. It is a symmetric logistic distribution curve, often confused with the "normal" gaussian function. It first appeared in "Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels," geophysicist M...

) has been applied to the whaling
Whaling
Whaling is the hunting of whales mainly for meat and oil. Its earliest forms date to at least 3000 BC. Various coastal communities have long histories of sustenance whaling and harvesting beached whales...

 industry, as well as charting the price of caviar
Caviar
Caviar, sometimes called black caviar, is a luxury delicacy, consisting of processed, salted, non-fertilized sturgeon roe. The roe can be "fresh" or pasteurized, the latter having much less culinary and economic value....

, which depends on sturgeon
Sturgeon
Sturgeon is the common name used for some 26 species of fish in the family Acipenseridae, including the genera Acipenser, Huso, Scaphirhynchus and Pseudoscaphirhynchus. The term includes over 20 species commonly referred to as sturgeon and several closely related species that have distinct common...

 stocks. Another example is North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 cod
Cod
Cod is the common name for genus Gadus, belonging to the family Gadidae, and is also used in the common name for various other fishes. Cod is a popular food with a mild flavor, low fat content and a dense, flaky white flesh. Cod livers are processed to make cod liver oil, an important source of...

. Comparing fisheries and mineral extraction tells us that human pressure on the environment is causing a wide range of resources to go through a Hubbert depletion cycle.

Habitat modification



Nearly all the world’s continental shelves
Continental shelf
The continental shelf is the extended perimeter of each continent and associated coastal plain. Much of the shelf was exposed during glacial periods, but is now submerged under relatively shallow seas and gulfs, and was similarly submerged during other interglacial periods. The continental margin,...

, and large areas of continental slopes, underwater ridges, and seamount
Seamount
A seamount is a mountain rising from the ocean seafloor that does not reach to the water's surface , and thus is not an island. These are typically formed from extinct volcanoes, that rise abruptly and are usually found rising from a seafloor of depth. They are defined by oceanographers as...

s, have had heavy bottom trawls
Bottom trawling
Bottom trawling is trawling along the sea floor. It is also often referred to as "dragging".The scientific community divides bottom trawling into benthic trawling and demersal trawling...

 and dredges repeatedly dragged over their surfaces. For fifty years, governments and organizations, such as the Asian Development Bank
Asian Development Bank
The Asian Development Bank is a regional development bank established on 22 August 1966 to facilitate economic development of countries in Asia...

, have encouraged the fishing industry to develop trawler fleets. Repeated bottom trawling and dredging literally flattens diversity in the benthic habitat, radically changing the associated communities.

Changing the ecosystem balance



Since 1950, 90 percent of 25 species of big predator fish have gone.

Climate change


Rising ocean temperatures and ocean acidification
Ocean acidification
Ocean acidification is the name given to the ongoing decrease in the pH and increase in acidity of the Earth's oceans, caused by the uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere....

 are radically altering aquatic ecosystem
Aquatic ecosystem
An aquatic ecosystem is an ecosystem in a body of water. Communities of organisms that are dependent on each other and on their environment live in aquatic ecosystems. The two main types of aquatic ecosystems are marine ecosystems and freshwater ecosystems....

s. Climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

 is modifying fish distribution and the productivity of marine and freshwater species. This reduces sustainable catch levels across many habitats, puts pressure on resources needed for aquaculture
Aquaculture
Aquaculture, also known as aquafarming, is the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic plants. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, and can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is the...

, on the communities that depend on fisheries, and on the oceans' ability to capture and store carbon (biological pump
Biological pump
In oceanic biogeochemistry, the biological pump is the sum of a suite of biologically-mediated processes that transport carbon from the surface euphotic zone to the ocean's interior.-Overview:...

). Sea level rise puts coastal fishing communities at risk, while changing rainfall patterns and water use impact on inland (freshwater) fisheries and aquaculture.

Ocean pollution



A recent survey of global ocean health concluded that all parts of the ocean have been impacted by human development and that 41 percent has been fouled with human polluted runoff, overfishing
Overfishing
Overfishing occurs when fishing activities reduce fish stocks below an acceptable level. This can occur in any body of water from a pond to the oceans....

, and other abuses. Pollution
Pollution
Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into a natural environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat or light...

 is not easy to fix, because pollution sources are so dispersed, and are built into the economic systems we depend on.

The United Nations Environment Programme
United Nations Environment Programme
The United Nations Environment Programme coordinates United Nations environmental activities, assisting developing countries in implementing environmentally sound policies and practices. It was founded as a result of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in June 1972 and has its...

 (UNEP) mapped the impacts of stressors such as climate change, pollution, exotic species, and over-exploitation of resources on the oceans. The report shows at least 75 percent of the world's key fishing grounds may be affected.

Diseases and toxins


Large predator fish contain significant amounts of mercury, a neurotoxin which can affect fetal development
Fetal development
Prenatal or antenatal development is the process in which a human embryo or fetus gestates during pregnancy, from fertilization until birth. Often, the terms fetal development, foetal development, or embryology are used in a similar sense.After fertilization the embryogenesis starts...

, memory, mental focus, and produce tremors.

Fisheries management


Fisheries management
Fisheries management
Fisheries management draws on fisheries science in order to find ways to protect fishery resources so sustainable exploitation is possible. Modern fisheries management is often referred to as a governmental system of appropriate management rules based on defined objectives and a mix of management...

 draws on fisheries science
Fisheries science
Fisheries science is the academic discipline of managing and understanding fisheries. It is a multidisciplinary science, which draws on the disciplines of oceanography, marine biology, marine conservation, ecology, population dynamics, economics and management to attempt to provide an integrated...

 to enable sustainable exploitation. Modern fisheries management is often defined as mandatory rules based on concrete objectives and a mix of management techniques, enforced by a monitoring control and surveillance
Monitoring control and surveillance
Monitoring, control and surveillance , in the context of fisheries, is defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as a broadening of traditional enforcing national rules over fishing, to the support of the broader problem of fisheries management.Internationally, the...

 system.
  • Ideas and rules: Economist Paul Romer
    Paul Romer
    Paul Michael Romer is an American economist, entrepreneur, and activist. He is currently the Henry Kaufman Visiting Professor at New York University Stern School of Business and will be joining NYU as a full time professor beginning in 2011...

     believes sustainable growth is possible providing the right ideas (technology) are combined with the right rules, rather than simply hectoring fishers. There has been no lack of innovative ideas about how to harvest fish. He characterizes failures as primarily failures to apply appropriate rules.

  • Fishing subsidies: Government subsidies influence many of the world fisheries. Operating cost subsidies allow European and Asian fishing fleet
    Fishing fleet
    A fishing fleet is an aggregate of commercial fishing vessels. The term may be used of all vessels operating out of a particular port, all vessels engaged in a particular type of fishing , or all fishing vessels of a country or region.Although fishing vessels are not formally organized as if they...

    s to fish in distant waters, such as West Africa. Many experts reject fishing subsidies and advocate restructuring incentives globally to help struggling fisheries recover.

  • Economics: Another focus of conservationists is on curtailing detrimental human activities by improving fisheries' market structure with techniques such as salable fishing quotas, like those set up by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization
    Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization
    The is an intergovernmental organization with a mandate to provide scientific advice and management of fisheries in the northwestern part of the Atlantic Ocean...

    , or laws such as those listed below.

  • Sustainable fisheries certification: A promising direction is the independent certification programs for sustainable fisheries conducted by organizations such as the Marine Stewardship Council
    Marine Stewardship Council
    The Marine Stewardship Council is an independent non-profit organization with an ecolabel and fishery certification programme. Fisheries that are assessed and meet the standard can use the MSC blue ecolabel. The MSC mission is to 'reward sustainable fishing practices’...

     and Friend of the Sea
    Friend of the Sea
    Friend of the Sea is a project for the certification and promotion of seafood from sustainable fisheries and sustainable aquaculture. It is the only certification scheme which, with the same logo, certifies both wild and farmed seafood. Friend of the Sea started as a project of the Earth Island...

    . These programs work at raising consumer awareness and insight into the nature of their seafood purchases.

  • Ecosystem based fisheries: See next section

Ecosystem based fisheries


According to marine ecologist Chris Frid, the fishing industry
Fishing industry
The fishing industry includes any industry or activity concerned with taking, culturing, processing, preserving, storing, transporting, marketing or selling fish or fish products....

 points to marine pollution
Marine pollution
Marine pollution occurs when harmful, or potentially harmful effects, can result from the entry into the ocean of chemicals, particles, industrial, agricultural and residential waste, noise, or the spread of invasive organisms. Most sources of marine pollution are land based...

 and global warming
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

 as the causes of recent, unprecedented declines in fish populations. Frid counters that overfishing
Overfishing
Overfishing occurs when fishing activities reduce fish stocks below an acceptable level. This can occur in any body of water from a pond to the oceans....

 has also altered the way the ecosystem
Ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

 works. "Everybody would like to see the rebuilding of fish stocks and this can only be achieved if we understand all of the influences, human and natural, on fish dynamics.” He adds: “fish communities can be altered in a number of ways, for example they can decrease if particular-sized individuals of a species are targeted, as this affects predator and prey dynamics. Fishing, however, is not the sole cause of changes to marine life—pollution
Marine pollution
Marine pollution occurs when harmful, or potentially harmful effects, can result from the entry into the ocean of chemicals, particles, industrial, agricultural and residential waste, noise, or the spread of invasive organisms. Most sources of marine pollution are land based...

 is another example....No one factor operates in isolation and components of the ecosystem respond differently to each individual factor."

The traditional approach to fisheries science and management has been to focus on a single species. This can be contrasted with the ecosystem-based approach
Ecosystem Approach
The Ecosystem Approach is considered one of the most important principles of sustainable environmental management.The Fifth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity defined the Ecosystem Approach in Decision V/6, Annex A, section 1 as ‘a strategy for the integrated...

. Ecosystem-based fishery concepts have been implemented in some regions. In a 2007 effort to "stimulate much needed discussion" and "clarify the essential components" of ecosystem-based fisheries science, a group of scientists offered the following ten commandments for ecosystem-based fisheries scientists



Marine protected areas



Strategies and techniques for marine conservation tend to combine theoretical disciplines, such as population biology, with practical conservation strategies, such as setting up protected areas, as with Marine Protected Area
Marine Protected Area
Marine Protected Areas, like any protected area, are regions in which human activity has been placed under some restrictions in the interest of conserving the natural environment, it's surrounding waters and the occupant ecosystems, and any cultural or historical resources that may require...

s (MPAs) or Voluntary Marine Conservation Area
Voluntary Marine Conservation Area
Voluntary Marine Conservation Area is a designation in the United Kingdom for areas of coastline which are of particular wildlife and scientific value that enjoy a level of voluntary protection....

s. Each nation defines MPAs independently, but they commonly involve increased protection for the area from fishing and other threats.

Marine life is not evenly distributed in the oceans. Most of the really valuable ecosystems are in relatively shallow coastal waters, above or near the continental shelf
Continental shelf
The continental shelf is the extended perimeter of each continent and associated coastal plain. Much of the shelf was exposed during glacial periods, but is now submerged under relatively shallow seas and gulfs, and was similarly submerged during other interglacial periods. The continental margin,...

, where the sunlit waters are often nutrient rich from land runoff or upwelling
Upwelling
Upwelling is an oceanographic phenomenon that involves wind-driven motion of dense, cooler, and usually nutrient-rich water towards the ocean surface, replacing the warmer, usually nutrient-depleted surface water. The increased availability in upwelling regions results in high levels of primary...

s at the continental edge, allowing photosynthesis, which energizes the lowest trophic levels. In the 1970s, for reasons more to do with oil drilling than with fishing, the U.S. extended its jurisdiction, then 12 miles from the coast, to 200 miles. This made huge shelf areas part of its territory. Other nations followed, extending national control to what became known as the exclusive economic zone
Exclusive Economic Zone
Under the law of the sea, an exclusive economic zone is a seazone over which a state has special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources, including production of energy from water and wind. It stretches from the seaward edge of the state's territorial sea out to 200 nautical...

 (EEZ). This move has had many implications for fisheries conservation, since it means that most of the most productive maritime ecosystems are now under national jurisdictions, opening possibilities for protecting these ecosystems by passing appropriate laws.

Daniel Pauly
Daniel Pauly
Daniel Pauly is a French-born marine biologist, well-known for his work in studying human impacts on global fisheries. He is a professor and the project leader of the Sea Around Us Project at the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia. He also served as Director of the Fisheries...

 characterises marine protected areas as "a conservation tool of revolutionary importance that is being incorporated into the fisheries mainstream." The Pew Charitable Trusts
The Pew Charitable Trusts
The Pew Charitable Trusts is an independent non-profit, non-governmental organization , founded in 1948. With over US$5 billion in assets, its current mission is to serve the public interest by "improving public policy, informing the public, and stimulating civic life."-History:The Trusts, a single...

 have funded various initiatives aimed at encouraging the development of MPAs and other ocean conservation measures.

Fish farming


To what extent can farmed fish be part of the answer? Farmed salmon eat three pounds of wild fish to produce one pound of salmon.

Laws and treaties


International laws and treaties related to marine conservation
Marine conservation
Marine conservation, also known as marine resources conservation, is the protection and preservation of ecosystems in oceans and seas. Marine conservation focuses on limiting human-caused damage to marine ecosystems, and on restoring damaged marine ecosystems...

 include the 1966 Convention on Fishing and Conservation of Living Resources of the High Seas
Convention on Fishing and Conservation of Living Resources of the High Seas
The Convention on Fishing and Conservation of Living Resources of the High Seas is an agreement that was designed to solve through international cooperation the problems involved in the conservation of living resources of the high seas, considering that because of the development of modern...

. United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 laws related to marine conservation include the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act
Marine Mammal Protection Act
The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 was the first article of legislation to call specifically for an ecosystem approach to natural resource management and conservation. MMPA prohibits the taking of marine mammals, and enacts a moratorium on the import, export, and sale of any marine mammal,...

, as well as the 1972 Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act which established the National Marine Sanctuaries program. Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

Awareness campaigns



Various organizations promote sustainable fishing strategies, educate the public and stakeholders, and lobby for conservation law and policy. The list includes the Marine Conservation Biology Institute and Blue Frontier Campaign
Blue Frontier Campaign
The Blue Frontier Campaign is a United States marine conservation activist organization founded by David Helvarg in 2003.The Campaign has established a nationwide network of grassroots lobbyists...

 in the U.S., The U.K.'s Frontier (the Society for Environmental Exploration)
Frontier (the Society for Environmental Exploration)
Frontier was established in 1989 as a UK based non-profit conservation and development non-governmental organisation .Their first project was based in Tanzania carrying out surveys in remote forest, savannah, and marine environments and led the eventual creation of the Mafia Island Marine Park...

 and Marine Conservation Society
Marine Conservation Society
The Marine Conservation Society a UK charity for the protection of the seas around the United Kingdom, and for the protection of their shores and wildlife.According to their website MCS's Vision is:Their website also states:...

, Australian Marine Conservation Society
Australian Marine Conservation Society
Australian Marine Conservation Society is an Australian independent and not-for-profit organisation, founded in 1965, is dedicated solely to protecting the health and vitality of Australia's coasts and oceans...

, International Council for the Exploration of the Sea
International Council for the Exploration of the Sea
The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea is the world’s oldest intergovernmental science organization. ICES is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, where its multinational Secretariat staff of 51 provide scientific, administrative and secretarial support to the ICES community...

 (ICES), Langkawi Declaration
Langkawi Declaration
The Langkawi Declaration on the Environment was a declaration issued by the assembled Heads of Government of the Commonwealth of Nations on the issue of environmental sustainability...

, Oceana
Oceana (non-profit group)
Oceana is the largest international ocean conservation and advocacy organization. Oceana works to protect and restore the world’s oceans through targeted policy campaigns....

, PROFISH
PROFISH
PROFISH is a global program on sustainable fisheries established by the World Bank in 2005. It has been set up in conjunction with key donors and stakeholders to meet the challenge of a growing crisis in the world fisheries sector....

, and the Sea Around Us Project
Sea Around Us Project
The Sea Around Us Project is an international research group based at the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre that is devoted to studying the impacts of fisheries on the world's marine ecosystems...

, International Collective in Support of Fishworkers
International Collective in Support of Fishworkers
International Collective in Support of Fishworkers is an international non-government organization that works towards the establishment of equitable, gender-just, self-reliant and sustainable fisheries, particularly in the small-scale, artisan sector....

, World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fish Workers
World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fish Workers
The World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fishworkers is an international non-governmental organization that works towards the establishment and upholding of fundamental human rights, social justice and culture of fish harvesters and fish workers, affirming the sea as source of all life and...

, Frozen at Sea Fillets Association and CEDO
CEDO
CEDO is the Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans.The acronym CEDO comes from the Spanish name: Centro Intercultural de Estudios de Desiertos y Océanos....

.

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals
Millennium Development Goals
The Millennium Development Goals are eight international development goals that all 193 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organizations have agreed to achieve by the year 2015...

 include, as goal #7: target 2, the intention to "reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss", including improving fisheries management to reduce depletion of fish stocks.

Some organizations certify fishing industry players for sustainable or good practices, such as the Marine Stewardship Council
Marine Stewardship Council
The Marine Stewardship Council is an independent non-profit organization with an ecolabel and fishery certification programme. Fisheries that are assessed and meet the standard can use the MSC blue ecolabel. The MSC mission is to 'reward sustainable fishing practices’...

 and Friend of the Sea
Friend of the Sea
Friend of the Sea is a project for the certification and promotion of seafood from sustainable fisheries and sustainable aquaculture. It is the only certification scheme which, with the same logo, certifies both wild and farmed seafood. Friend of the Sea started as a project of the Earth Island...

.

Other organizations offer advice to members of the public who eat with an eye to sustainability. According to the marine conservation biologist Callum Roberts
Callum Roberts
Callum Roberts is a marine conservation biologist, oceanographer, author and research scholar at the University of York, England.His work examines the impact of human activity on marine ecosystems, particularly coral reefs. In St. Lucia and Saba in the Caribbean, he has studied the effects of...

, four criteria apply when choosing seafood:
  • Is the species in trouble in the wild where the animals were caught?
  • Does fishing for the species damage ocean habitats?
  • Is there a large amount of bycatch
    Bycatch
    The term “bycatch” is usually used for fish caught unintentionally in a fishery while intending to catch other fish. It may however also indicate untargeted catch in other forms of animal harvesting or collecting...

     taken with the target species?
  • Does the fishery have a problem with discards—generally, undersized animals caught and thrown away because their market value is low?



The following organizations have download links for wallet-sized cards, listing good and bad choices:
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium
    Monterey Bay Aquarium
    The Monterey Bay Aquarium is located on the former site of a sardine cannery on Cannery Row of the Pacific Ocean shoreline in Monterey, California. It has an annual attendance of 1.8 million visitors. It holds thousands of plants and animals, representing 623 separate named species on display...

     Seafood Watch
    Seafood Watch
    Seafood Watch is one of the best known sustainable seafood advisory lists, and has influenced similar programs around the world. It is a program designed to raise consumer awareness about the importance of buying seafood from sustainable sources...

    , USA
  • Blue Ocean Institute
    Blue Ocean Institute
    Blue Ocean Institute is a 5013 nonprofit conservation organization headquartered in East Norwich, New York, that was founded in 2003 by MacArthur Fellow Dr. Carl Safina and collaborator Mercédès Lee. A central focus of Blue Ocean Institute is to inspire a closer relationship with the sea through...

    , USA
  • Marine Conservation Society
    Marine Conservation Society
    The Marine Conservation Society a UK charity for the protection of the seas around the United Kingdom, and for the protection of their shores and wildlife.According to their website MCS's Vision is:Their website also states:...

    , UK
  • Australian Marine Conservation Society
    Australian Marine Conservation Society
    Australian Marine Conservation Society is an Australian independent and not-for-profit organisation, founded in 1965, is dedicated solely to protecting the health and vitality of Australia's coasts and oceans...

  • The Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative


Data quality


One of the major impediments to the rational control of marine resources is inadequate data. According to fisheries scientist Milo Adkison (2007), the primary limitation in fisheries management decisions is poor data. Fisheries management decisions are often based on population models, but the models need quality data to be accurate. Scientists and fishery managers would be better served with simpler models and improved data.

Unreported fishing


Estimates of illegal catch losses range between $10bn and $23bn annually, representing between 11 and 26 million tonnes.
  • Incidental catch

Shifting baselines


Shifting baselines is a term which describes the way significant changes to a system are measured against previous baseline
Baseline
A baseline is a line that is a base for measurement or for construction; see datum or point of reference .The word baseline may refer to:...

s, which themselves may represent significant changes from the original state of the system. The term was first used by the fisheries scientist
Fisheries science
Fisheries science is the academic discipline of managing and understanding fisheries. It is a multidisciplinary science, which draws on the disciplines of oceanography, marine biology, marine conservation, ecology, population dynamics, economics and management to attempt to provide an integrated...

 Daniel Pauly
Daniel Pauly
Daniel Pauly is a French-born marine biologist, well-known for his work in studying human impacts on global fisheries. He is a professor and the project leader of the Sea Around Us Project at the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia. He also served as Director of the Fisheries...

 in his paper "Anecdotes and the shifting baseline syndrome of fisheries". Pauly developed the term in reference to fisheries management
Fisheries management
Fisheries management draws on fisheries science in order to find ways to protect fishery resources so sustainable exploitation is possible. Modern fisheries management is often referred to as a governmental system of appropriate management rules based on defined objectives and a mix of management...

 where fisheries scientists sometimes fail to identify the correct "baseline" population size (e.g. how abundant a fish species population was before human exploitation) and thus work with a shifted baseline. He describes the way that radically depleted fisheries were evaluated by experts who used the state of the fishery at the start of their careers as the baseline, rather than the fishery in its untouched state. Areas that swarmed with a particular species hundreds of years ago, may have experienced long term decline, but it is the level of decades previously that is considered the appropriate reference point for current populations. In this way large declines in ecosystems or species over long periods of time were, and are, masked. There is a loss of perception
Perception
Perception is the process of attaining awareness or understanding of the environment by organizing and interpreting sensory information. All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical stimulation of the sense organs...

 of change that occurs when each generation
Generation
Generation , also known as procreation in biological sciences, is the act of producing offspring....

 redefines what is "natural".

See also

  • Community supported fishery
    Community supported fishery
    A community supported fishery is a shore-side community of people collaborating with the local fishing community. Tailored after the community supported agriculture model, a CSF contributes freshly caught local seafood to the local markets while providing fishermen with a better price on less catch...

  • The End of the Line
    The End of the Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat
    The End of The Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World And What We Eat is a book by journalist Charles Clover about overfishing. Clover, an environment editor of the Daily Telegraph , describes how modern fishing is destroying ocean ecosystems. He concludes that current worldwide fish...

  • The Ocean Conservancy
    The Ocean Conservancy
    The Ocean Conservancy is a nonprofit advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., United States.-History:...

  • International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF)
    International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF)
    International Seafood Sustainability Foundation was formed in 2009 as a global, non-profit partnership among the tuna industry, scientists and WWF, the global conservation organization...

  • Worldwatch Institute
    Worldwatch Institute
    The Worldwatch Institute is a globally focused environmental research organization based in Washington, D.C. Worldwatch was named as one of the top ten sustainable development research organizations by Globescan Survey of Sustainability Experts.-Mission:...

  • Marine Life Protection Act
    Marine Life Protection Act
    The Marine Life Protection Act was passed in 1999 and is part of the California Fish and Game Code. The MLPA requires California to reevaluate all existing marine protected areas and potentially design new MPAs that together function as a statewide network. The MLPA has clear guidance associated...

  • Aral Sea
    Aral Sea
    The Aral Sea was a lake that lay between Kazakhstan in the north and Karakalpakstan, an autonomous region of Uzbekistan, in the south...


External links