"It highlights the importance of looking at the by-catch issue across different species, fishing gears and countries," said Lewison, an ecology professor at San Diego State University. "When you do that, it makes it clear that to address by-catch, fishing nations need to work together to report and mitigate by-catch. No single country can fix this."
The study revealed by-catch hotspots and gaps in available data, such as the lack of information on small-scale and coastal fisheries and many ocean regions that are heavily fished by commercial fleets. Among the findings:
Marine mammal by-catch is highest in the eastern Pacific and the Mediterranean.
Sea turtle by-catch is most prevalent in the southwest Atlantic, eastern Pacific and Mediterranean oceans.
Seabird by-catch is highest in the southwest Atlantic and Southern Indian oceans.
Expanding the use of by-catch mitigation tools such as turtle excluder devices is only part of the solution, according to the study's authors. Community engagement is key in less-regulated, small-scale fisheries. To make meaningful headway, researchers and managers need more data on the extent and distribution of global fishing. "Reducing by-catch levels in coastal fisheries sectors will require coordination across national boundaries using integrated approaches that link conservation action with sustaining human livelihoods, incentives and commitment to protecting the environment," the study's authors wrote.
|Contact: Rob Jordan, Stanford|