Scientists have joined forces in a groundbreaking assessment of the status of marine fisheries and ecosystems.
Australian Beth Fulton, a fishery ecosystem scientist from the CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship, was among an international team of 19 co-authors of a report on a two-year study, led by US scientists Dr Boris Worm of Dalhousie University and Dr Ray Hilborn of the University of Washington.
The study shows that steps taken to curb overfishing are beginning to succeed in five of the 10 large marine ecosystems they examined. The paper, which appears in the 31 July issue of the journal Science, provides new hope for rebuilding troubled fisheries.
The study had two goals: to examine current trends in fish abundance and exploitation rates (the proportion of fish taken out of the sea) and to identify which tools managers have applied in their efforts to rebuild depleted fish stocks.
The work is a significant leap forward because it reveals that the rate of fishing has been reduced in several regions around the world, resulting in some stock recovery. Moreover, it bolsters the case that sound management can contribute to the rebuilding of fisheries elsewhere.
It is 'good news' for several regions in the US, Iceland and New Zealand.
"These highly managed ecosystems are improving," says Dr Hilborn. "Yet there is still a long way to go: of all fish stocks that we examined 63 per cent remained below target and still needed to be rebuilt."
According to Dr Worm, there is still a troubling trend of increasing stock collapse across all regions.
"But this paper shows that our oceans are not a lost cause," Dr Worm says.
"The encouraging result is that the exploitation rate the ultimate driver of depletion and collapse is decreasing in half of the 10 systems we examined in detail. This means that management in those areas is setting the stage for ecological and economic recove
|Contact: Bryony Bennett|