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Study helps assess global status of tuna and billfish stocks
Date:8/15/2011

ers of the IUCN review team note this "one-size-fits-all" approach also has drawbacks, especially when applied to heavily fished species such as tunas.

Although the IUCN review team doesn't think that these drawbacks significantly affect their findings, they have notified the IUCN of inconsistencies between Red List methods and the methods typically used to assess and manage fishery stocks.

Their concerns focus on the IUCN's "rate of decline" criterion. This compares the rate at which a population is decreasing to the age at which individuals in the population reach sexual maturity (between 5 and 20 years for tunas).

The team describes two cases where uncritical application of the rate-of-decline criterion could lead to misleading threat assessments for tunas and billfishes. One is when a population maintains a low but steady level following an earlier precipitous drop due to overfishing. Uncritical application of the rate-of-decline criterion in this case would underestimate threat by placing the population in the "least concern" category, when it may well be vulnerable to extinction in the long term due to genetic effects and natural fluctuations.

The second case would overestimate the threat to a population. This could occur if the IUCN rate-of-decline criterion were applied to a previously un-fished or "virgin" stock that had been quickly culled to a level matching its "maximum sustainable yield"the goal of fishery managers attempting to ensure the largest on-going harvest.

Rapid depletion of a population to its maximum sustainable yieldtypically 40-50% of the virgin stock for tunaswould place it in the vulnerable category on the IUCN Red List, directly contradicting a fishery manager's view that this is a well-managed and sustainable fishery.


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Contact: David Malmquist
davem@vims.edu
804-684-7011
Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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