Fisheries Failures

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Science  09 Dec 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5754, pp. 1589
DOI: 10.1126/science.310.5754.1589b

Some collapsed fisheries fail to recover even when harvesting has stopped for more than a decade. Fishing usually targets the largest, oldest, and fastest-growing individuals and hence favors the survival of smaller, younger, and slower-growing fish. Walsh et al. have chosen the Atlantic silverside, a commercially exploited fish with an annual life cycle, for harvesting experiments under a variety of regimens. They found that selecting out the largest individuals affected multiple traits in subsequent generations, with significant reductions in vertebral number, egg size and subsequent viability; rates of growth and growth efficiency; and foraging and fecundity. It is still not clear why some fish stocks fail to recover and others are more resilient, although duration and intensity of exploitation may be a factor. The authors are continuing to monitor rates of recovery of the experimental silverside populations. — CA

Ecol. Lett. 8, 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2005.00858.x (2005).

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