The Risks of Overfishing

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Science  26 Oct 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6106, pp. 474-475
DOI: 10.1126/science.1229965

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On page 517 of this issue, Costello et al. (1) paint a dismal picture of the state of the world's fisheries. The authors report that globally, the vast majority of exploited fish populations have been depleted to abundance levels well below those recommended by conventional management guidance. Of even greater concern, most species are on a continuing trajectory of decline. These insights were gleaned from analyses of data from previously unassessed fish populations. These poorly understood fisheries, which represent about 80% of the world's fish catch, are in much worse shape than the relatively well-studied fisheries on which previous global status reviews have relied (2, 3).