Policy ForumConservation

Reconsidering the Consequences of Selective Fisheries

Science  02 Mar 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6072, pp. 1045-1047
DOI: 10.1126/science.1214594

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Summary

Concern about the impact of fishing on ecosystems and fisheries production is increasing (1, 2). Strategies to reduce these impacts while addressing the growing need for food security (3) include increasing selectivity (1, 2): capturing species, sexes, and sizes in proportions that differ from their occurrence in the ecosystem. Increasing evidence suggests that more selective fishing neither maximizes production nor minimizes impacts (47). Balanced harvesting would more effectively mitigate adverse ecological effects of fishing while supporting sustainable fisheries. This strategy, which challenges present management paradigms, distributes a moderate mortality from fishing across the widest possible range of species, stocks, and sizes in an ecosystem, in proportion to their natural productivity (8), so that the relative size and species composition is maintained.

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