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Did the North Atlantic fisheries collapse due to fisheries-induced evolution?
Date:5/26/2009

d not simply plastic phenotypic responses to the environment. They are comparable to changes that preceded the collapse of northern cod at Newfoundland.

This finding further supports the hypothesis of an imminent collapse of Icelandic cod due to the intense fisheries-induced selection. The cod fishery at Iceland is one of the world's few remaining cod fisheries. The study appears to have met all criteria for concern that this fishery is threatened.

"Can anything be done to avert collapse?" the authors ask. A strategy that would remove selection pressures against shallow-water adapted fish would seem to be the answer. The authors speculate that immediate establishment of large no-take reserves might be the right strategy by relieving selection pressures on all genotypes.

The findings provide general lessons for population and conservation genetics that anthropogenic changes in habitat can lead to intense selection even if the mortality is non-selective in the habitat in which it occurs. The study highlights the importance of applying Darwinian principles and evolutionary thinking to fisheries and conservation science.


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Contact: Rebecca Walton
rwalton@plos.org
44-122-346-3333
Public Library of Science
Source:Eurekalert

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