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New hope for fisheries
Date:7/31/2009

restore and rebuild marine resources. Some other regions are currently recovering from overfishing: fish abundance has recently been increasing above the long-term average in Iceland, the Northeast U.S. Shelf and the California Current.

This new study is a follow-up to a 2006 paper in Science by Worm and others that highlighted a widespread global trend toward fisheries collapse. The results of that paper led to a public disagreement between Worm and Hilborn. Through their subsequent discussions, however, the two scientists recognized a shared sense of purpose. They decided to collaborate on a more detailed assessment of the world's fisheries, and brought together many of the world's most talented fisheries scientists and ecologists for a two-year series of working groups at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) in Santa Barbara, California. The current paper is the result of those meetings.

"Prior to this study, evaluations of the status of world fish stocks and communities were based on catch records for lack of a better alternative. Results were controversial because catch trends may not give an accurate picture of the trends in fish abundance," explains Ana Parma of Centro Nacional Patagnico in Argentina. "This is the first exhaustive attempt to assemble the best-available data on the status of marine fisheries and trends in exploitation rates, a major breakthrough that has allowed scientists from different backgrounds to reach a consensus about the status of fisheries and actions needed."

The analysis includes catch data, stock assessments, scientific trawl surveys, small-scale fishery data and modeling results. The authors liken their strategy to constructing a "Russian doll", with each nested layer of data adding to the strength and value of the whole.

In looking at the tools that have been used to reduce exploitation rate, the authors note that "some of the most spectacular rebuilding
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Contact: Matthew Wright
mwright@compassonline.org
301-412-6931
Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea
Source:Eurekalert

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