Posted: 06 Apr 2015 12:29 PM PDT
A new study shows for the first time that fishing likely worsens population collapses in species of forage fish, including herring, anchovies and sardines. Some of the largest fisheries in the world target these species, and these “baitfish” are also a key source of food for larger marine animals, including salmon, tuna, seabirds and whales. Scientists have long known about wide fluctuations in the abundance of forage fish, including the occasional population collapse. But they had not figured out whether collapses were entirely natural or related to fishing. The study, published April 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, implicates fishing in the collapse of forage fish stocks and recommends risk-based management tools that would track a fishery’s numbers and suspend fishing when necessary….
Timothy E. Essington, Pamela E. Moriarty, Halley E. Froehlich, Emma E. Hodgson, Laura E. Koehn, Kiva L. Oken, Margaret C. Siple, and Christine C. Stawitz. Fishing amplifies forage fish population collapses. PNAS, April 2015 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1422020112