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Stanford professor maps by-catch as unintended consequence of global fisheries
Date:3/21/2014

Seabirds, sea turtles and marine mammals such as dolphins may not appear to have much in common, other than an affinity for open water. The sad truth is that they are all unintended victims by-catch of intensive global fishing. In fact, accidental entanglement in fishing gear is the single biggest threat to some species in these groups.

A new analysis co-authored by Stanford biology Professor Larry Crowder provides an unprecedented global map of this by-catch, starkly illustrating the scope of the problem and the need to expand existing conservation efforts in certain areas.

"Some of the earliest by-catch issues involved marine mammals taken in purse seines (large nets with floats) and shrimp trawls that drowned sea turtles," said Crowder, who is the science director at the Center for Ocean Solutions and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. "The problems were ultimately solved by scientists who clearly defined the problems and by managers and fishermen who sought innovative fishing methods to allow fisheries and protected species to coexist."

During the past half-century, fish hauls around the world have increased from about 19 million tons per year to more than 154 million tons per year. Beyond the problem of overfishing more than 60 percent of sea creatures brought up are classified as overfished or collapsed stocks by-catch can lead to "major changes in ecosystem function and process," the study's authors write. By-catch also damages fishing gear and wastes fishermen's time and money. Accurate data on global by-catch are hard to find because of the need for trained on-ship observers across vast oceans.

To fill the gap, Crowder and Rebecca Lewison, the lead author of the paper and a co-leader of the study, directed a research team that looked at hundreds of peer-reviewed studies, reports and symposia proceedings published between 1990 and 2008 to obtain a global perspective on what kinds
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Contact: Rob Jordan, Stanford
rjordan@stanford.edu
650-721-1881
Stanford University
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2

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