"If you're a turtle, you probably don't care about what country, or what type of gear or which fleet catches you," Lewison said. "You just care that you got caught."
That's the attitude Lewison and her colleagues applied to their latest study, published March 17 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. As part of a research initiative funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the scientists looked at hundreds of peer-reviewed studies, reports and symposia proceedings published between 1990 and 2008 to obtain a global perspective on what kinds of animals were being caught, where they were being caught, and the types of gear in which they were trapped. The researchers then compiled all of this information into a single comprehensive map and dataset.
"We call this the whole enchilada," Lewison said. "It highlights the importance of looking at the bycatch issue across different species, fishing gears and countries. When you do that, it is clear that to address bycatch, fishing nations need to work together to report and mitigate bycatch. No single country can fix this. "
The study also revealed gaps in the available bycatch data, such as the lack of information on small-scale and coastal fisheries and from many ocean regions that are heavily fished by commercial fleets.
"Industry has taken the lead in developing mitigation in many countries, but these measures aren't used everywhere," Crowder said. "The fact is that as long as we have a fishing industry, we're going to have an ecological footprint. We need to use the best-available data, science and technology to reduce that footprint as much as we can."
|Contact: Beth Chee|
San Diego State University