Ending overfishing while catching more fish
Article first published online: 3 FEB 2014
© 2014 CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Wealth from Ocean. Fish and Fisheries published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.
How to Cite
Zhou, S., Smith, A. D. and Knudsen, E. E. (2014), Ending overfishing while catching more fish. Fish and Fisheries. doi: 10.1111/faf.12077
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George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950), polymath, playwright, Nobel Prize winner and the most prolific letter writer in history, was an advocate of English spelling reform. He was reportedly fond of pointing out its absurdities by proving that ‘fish’ could be spelt ‘ghoti’. That is: ‘gh’ as in ‘rough’, ‘o’ as in ‘women’ and ‘ti’ as in palatial.
- Article first published online: 3 FEB 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 17 DEC 2013
- Manuscript Received: 16 SEP 2013
- CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research and Wealth from Oceans Flagship
- Sustainable Fisheries Foundation
- ecological function;
- ecosystem structure;
- social benefit;
The world's seas and oceans are a vital source of animal protein from fishing and a major contributor to global food security. It has been argued that global wild-catch production has reached its limit, and there is concern that many species are overfished. Concerns are also mounting about the state of marine ecosystems and the ecological impacts of fishing on them, with increasing efforts to protect marine biodiversity. Fisheries appear to be at an impasse – demand for seafood is rising but so is concern about the impacts of fishing. However, through a simple analysis, we show that global exploitation rates are well below long-term sustainable levels at a whole ecosystem level. The oceans can support considerably higher sustainable catch than currently harvested. Overfishing has happened but only to a small fraction of species as a result of intensive and selective fishing. Shifting fishing effort away from highly targeted stocks towards currently underutilized species would reduce pressure on overfished species, result in fewer adverse ecosystem effects of fishing and increase overall fisheries production. This shift requires significant changes to our views about seafood, particularly in the developed world. We suggest ways in which this paradigm shift could happen and the range of expertise that would be required to achieve higher global yields with less ecological impact.