Fifty years of factory trawlers scouring the world’s seas have resulted in overfishing and serious depletion of the world’s fish stocks. Something like one third of the world’s maritime species are under actual threat of extinction.
Now,according to the National Science Foundation, an international group of scientists has just completed a ground breaking study of ten of the world’s major marine eco-systems which offers new hope for the world’s fisheries.
Since 1989 the world fish catch has been in decline, with many marine animals pushed to the edge of extinction by overfishing. During this period various types of management have been introduced to try and stem the tide, and it seems that some of them, at least in some places, are working.
The study, which appears in the July 31 issue of Science, examines ten highly managed eco-systems and the ways in which various management techniques, from fish quotas to community involvement are helping to rebuild depleted stocks. An international team of 19 co-authors conducted the study and detailed its encouraging results.
“We know, says co-author Jeremy Collie from the University of Rhode Island. that more fish can be harvested with less fishing effort and less impact on the environment, if we first slow down and allow overfished populations to rebuild,”
Fish stocks, it seems, are rebuilding in nations as disparate as Kenya and Iceland. While the study is only a ray of hope, it is a welcome indication that active management of marine eco systems, is having a beneficial effect. While there is much yet to be done, the study offers an opportunity for nations with depleted fishing stocks to begin to see how to attack the problem in their own back yards. Let us hope they will do so quickly. Time is running out.