Sustaining Fisheries Yields Over Evolutionary Time Scales

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Science  05 Jul 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5578, pp. 94-96
DOI: 10.1126/science.1074085

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Fishery management plans ignore the potential for evolutionary change in harvestable biomass. We subjected populations of an exploited fish (Menidia menidia) to large, small, or random size-selective harvest of adults over four generations. Harvested biomass evolved rapidly in directions counter to the size-dependent force of fishing mortality. Large-harvested populations initially produced the highest catch but quickly evolved a lower yield than controls. Small-harvested populations did the reverse. These shifts were caused by selection of genotypes with slower or faster rates of growth. Management tools that preserve natural genetic variation are necessary for long-term sustainable yield.

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