Fisheries management is actually working, global analysis shows

UW News –

Nearly half of the fish caught worldwide are from stocks that are scientifically monitored and, on average, are increasing in abundance. Effective management appears to be the main reason these stocks are at sustainable levels or successfully rebuilding.

That is the main finding of an international project led by the University of Washington to compile and analyze data from fisheries around the world. The results were published Jan. 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“There is a narrative that fish stocks are declining around the world, that fisheries management is failing and we need new solutions — and it’s totally wrong,” said lead author Ray Hilborn, a professor in the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. “Fish stocks are not all declining around the world. They are increasing in many places, and we already know how to solve problems through effective fisheries management.”

The project builds on a decade-long international collaboration to assemble estimates of the status of fish stocks — or distinct populations of fish — around the world. This information helps scientists and managers know where overfishing is occurring, or where some areas could support even more fishing. Now the team’s database includes information on nearly half of the world’s fish catch, up from about 20% represented in the last compilation in 2009.

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