"An end to seafood by 2050?" "Fish to disappear by 2050?" These sensational media headlines were the result of a 2010 report by the United Nations Environment Program, declaring that over-fishing and pollution had nearly emptied the world's fish stocks. That scarcity portends disaster for over a billion people around the world who are dependent on fish for their main source of protein.
Now, a new study by Dr. Roi Holzman and Victor China of the Department of Zoology at Tel Aviv University's George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences has uncovered the reason why 90% of fish larvae are biologically doomed to die mere days after hatching. With this understanding of the mechanism that kills off the majority of the world's fish larvae, leaving only a marginal proportion to populate the world's oceans, "We can help find a solution to the looming fish crisis in the world," said Dr. Holzman.
The research, published in PNAS and conducted at the Inter-University Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat, Israel, suggests that "hydrodynamic starvation," or the physical inability to feed due to environmental incompatibility, is the reason so many fish larvae perish.
"By focusing on the constraints placed on larvae survival, we have a better chance of producing higher quality mariculture," a specialized branch of aquaculture involving the cultivation of marine organisms for food and other products in the open ocean, said Dr. Holzman. "If we can produce better fish, this will have huge implications for our ability to maintain fish populations."
Dr. Holzman based his study on the problematic nature of fish reproduction. Nearly all fish species reproduce externally they release and abandon their sperm and eggs into the water, providing no parental care. The fertilized eggs then hatch in the water within a couple of days and the hatching larvae must sustain themselves. When attached to a yolk sac (a membr
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