Upper limit in the depths

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) requested The National Academies' Ocean Studies Board (OSB) examine "the impacts of fishing on non-target resources and habitat." Finding more severe changes than anticipated to "the genetic structure and age composition of fished stocks, as well as decreasing the diversity of marine communities," the panel concluded:
  • Identifying and understanding these potential impacts and interactions will be essential for developing future management actions.
  • Fisheries management strategies currently employed in the United States generally do not take into account ecosystem effects and multi-species interactions.
  • New governance and management instruments that create stewardship incentives among user groups should be evaluated and considered for adoption in the United States for multi-species fisheries management.
  • Promoting Better Stewardship of the Marine Environment Fisheries management structures should ensure that a broad spectrum of social values is included in policy and management decisions.
  • Research should also be conducted on how ecosystem management objectives can be incorporated into incentive-based governance mechanisms.
  • There is an additional need for a repository and data management system for ecosystem-level research that will allow access to data through multiple-user portals.

The panel further finds, "Seventy-six percent of the world's stocks are fully exploited, overexploited, or depleted," with few resources remaining for future development of new sustainable fisheries.
Whether the unwanted, negative influences of fishing on marine food webs and communities can be reversed is generally unknown.

Dynamic Changes in Marine Ecosystems: Fishing, Food Webs, and Future Options (2006, NAP Open Book, 154pp)

See also, FR post, Offshore aquaculture

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