Mismanagement of Marine Fisheries

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Alan Longhurst examines the proposition, central to fisheries science, that a fishery creates its own natural resource by the compensatory growth it induces in the fish and that this is sustainable. His novel analysis of the reproductive ecology of bony fish of cooler seas offers some support for this, but a review of fisheries past and present confirms that sustainability is rarely achieved. The relatively open structure and strong variability of marine ecosystems are discussed in relation to the reliability of resources used by the industrial-level fishing that became globalised during the twentieth century. This was associated with an extraordinary lack of regulation in most seas and a widespread avoidance of regulation where it did exist. Some species with unusual reproductive biology have survived unregulated fishing, but sustained fisheries can only be expected where social conditions permit strict regulation and where politicians have no personal interest in outcomes: otherwise, there are no magic bullets - despite current enthusiasm for ecosystem-based approaches or for transferable property rights.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A highly readable and insightful analysis of prominent failures in world fisheries management from an eminent marine scientist."
Peter Koeller, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, N.S.

"This is great book that will challenge the cherished theories and beliefs of almost anyone working in the area of fisheries management. "Some of the shibboleths of the fisheries management and fisheries ecological communities he challenges include (1) fishing can be sustainable, (2) the basic assumptions of modern fisheries population dynamics models have any biological realism, (3) that the collapse of the Northern cod stock was simply overfishing and (4) except in the most extreme cases there is a relationship between spawning stock size and recruitment. "The book provides a valuable historical perspective on both marine ecosystems, and fisheries management. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in marine fisheries."
Professor Ray Hilborn, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington

"I say without hesitation this is a book that should be read by every scientist and, indeed every bureaucrat and person operating within the fishing industry and its associated sea-food industries.
Sidney Holt

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521721509
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/22/2010
  • Pages: 334
  • Sales rank: 1,492,652
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Alan Longhurst began his career in fisheries science, but is best known as a biological oceanographer, being the first Director of the Southwest Fisheries Science Center of the US NMFS in La Jolla, California, and later the Director-General of the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Nova Scotia, Canada. He produced the first estimate of global plant production in the oceans using satellite imagery, and also quantified vertical carbon flux through the planktonic ecosystem. More recently, in reaction to disastrous Canadian management of NW Atlantic cod stocks, he has offered a number of critical reviews of several aspects of fishery management science. He retired in 1995 and now divides his time between south-west France and Nova Scotia.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

1 From certainty to doubt in fishery science 1

2 The ecological consequences of the exceptional fecundity of teleosts 16

The anomalous fecundity of teleosts 17

The ecological role of planktonic larvae 21

3 Indeterminate growth, negative senescence and longevity 34

Negative senescence: a consequence of indeterminate growth 35

BOFFs: growth trajectories, selective energy allocation and reproductive strategy 40

What happens if we curtail the duration of the reproductive period? 45

4 Marine ecosystems: their structure and simulation 56

Terrestrial ecosystems: no surplus production of biomass usable by industry 57

Trophic relations and energy flow in marine ecosystems 60

Characteristic structure and scale of marine habitats 64

Taxonomic characterisation of regional ecosystems 67

The undersampling problem and simulation of ecosystem functioning 69

5 The natural variability of fish populations and fisheries 79

The perhaps very distant forcing of fish populations 81

Regime shifts, changes of state or punctuated equilibria 89

Cyclical changes in the abundance of fish populations 97

A general consequence of ocean instability: recruitment variability 107

6 Has sustainability in fishing ever been achieved? 119

Ancient fishing and the destruction of pristine populations 120

The evolution of fisheries into the late mediƦval period 125

Early fisheries of the Northwest Atlantic 130

Globalisation of industrial fishing: from Pushkins to rustbuckets 134

7 What is the real state of global fish populations? 155

Hilborn's great divide in fisheries sciences 157

What do we really know about the present state of global fish stocks? 161

Uncertainties arising from discards and from illegal, unregulated and unreported catches 169

How much confidence can we have in assessments of global stock depletion levels? 176

Consequences of the differential sensitivity of marine biota to fishing 188

8 The mechanics of population collapse 195

The morass of unreliable or incorrect stock assessment data 199

The tricky translation of scientific advice into management decision 203

Levels of national compliance with Treaties and Agreements 210

Slash-and-burn fishing: the extraordinary LRFF (Live Reef Food Fish) trade 216

Individual enterprise in ignoring regulations and in applying political pressure 218

9 Why don't some fish populations recover after depletion? 229

Depensation, predation and other obstacles to population recovery 234

On re-inventing nature and making new species 239

Broken ecosystems 247

10 Is the response of the fishery science community appropriate? 261

Optimism is the rule - but who calls the tune? 262

The new ecological imperative: paradigm shift or feeding frenzy? 265

The end of open-access fishing? 277

Marine protected areas: neither panacea nor red herring 282

11 Conclusion: sustainability can be achieved rarely and only under special conditions 291

A fishery for an ideal fish 296

A fishery with exceptional management 301

Index 315

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