Consilience in fisheries science


  • Ghoti papers
    Ghoti aims to serve as a forum for stimulating and pertinent ideas. Ghoti publishes succinct commentary and opinion that addresses important areas in fish and fisheries science. Ghoti contributions will be innovative and have a perspective that may lead to fresh and productive insight of concepts, issues and research agendas. All Ghoti contributions will be selected by the editors and peer reviewed.
    Etymology of Ghoti
    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.

Andrea Sáenz-Arroyo, Comunidad y Biodiversidad A.C., Boulevard Agua Marina # 297, Colonia Delicias C.P. 85420, Guaymas, Sonora, México
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The failure of fisheries science to preserve life in the oceans is broadly recognized. Here, we argue that part of this failure is the result of the philosophical basis behind fisheries science. In the middle of the 20th century, synthesizing more than half a century of insights dealing with what they called the ‘overfishing problem’, British scholars gave birth to some of the first predictive fishery management tools. Although novel for their time, the main objective of the approach was to advise the fishing industry on how to maximize the exploitation of fish resources without jeopardizing the viability of fish populations. Half a century on from these first attempts, we need a wider historical perspective to understand species dynamics, both natural and anthropogenic. We are also aware that there are other benefits society obtains from the ocean than maximum sustainable catches and we need to understand the role of biodiversity in social welfare. Not only should fishing be regarded as an economic activity but also as a planetary-scale human experiment that requires experimental controls for a continuous evaluation of its performance and effects. Here, we present a philosophical approach to the problem, synthesizing material from the different disciplines that we consider should be addressed. A mix of insights may best help to deal with the ‘overfishing problem.’