New study maps out how the world’s fisheries are interconnected

Seafood Source –

A new study published in the journal Science reveals that the world’s marine fisheries form a single global network – linked by transnational flows of fish larvae – rather than existing as discrete groups.

Researchers from the United States and the United Kingdom believe that their work could lead to greater international cooperation in the way fish stocks are managed in the future.

The study combined data from satellites, ocean buoys, field observations, and marine catch records to build a computer model of how the eggs and larvae of more than 700 of the world’s commercially harvested fish species are dispersed. The results showed that more than USD 10 billion (EUR 8.9 billion) worth of fish is caught each year in a country other than the one in which it spawned.

Fisheries are traditionally managed within EEZs, where around 90 percent of the world’s fish are caught. And while adult pelagic stocks can be tracked across international borders, as they tend to swim in large schools, the wider movements of non-pelagic populations are more of a grey area.

Numerous studies have shown that eggs and larvae drift on ocean currents and that plankton communities are connected, but this is the first time that experts in oceanography, fish biology, and economics have collaborated to examine the global nature of this complex area, and been able to construct a network showing the larval flows between nations.

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