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Concept: Fishing


The ubiquity of anthropogenic debris in hundreds of species of wildlife and the toxicity of chemicals associated with it has begun to raise concerns regarding the presence of anthropogenic debris in seafood. We assessed the presence of anthropogenic debris in fishes and shellfish on sale for human consumption. We sampled from markets in Makassar, Indonesia, and from California, USA. All fish and shellfish were identified to species where possible. Anthropogenic debris was extracted from the digestive tracts of fish and whole shellfish using a 10% KOH solution and quantified under a dissecting microscope. In Indonesia, anthropogenic debris was found in 28% of individual fish and in 55% of all species. Similarly, in the USA, anthropogenic debris was found in 25% of individual fish and in 67% of all species. Anthropogenic debris was also found in 33% of individual shellfish sampled. All of the anthropogenic debris recovered from fish in Indonesia was plastic, whereas anthropogenic debris recovered from fish in the USA was primarily fibers. Variations in debris types likely reflect different sources and waste management strategies between countries. We report some of the first findings of plastic debris in fishes directly sold for human consumption raising concerns regarding human health.

Concepts: Vertebrate, Fishing, Human, Waste, Pacific Ocean, Shellfish, Seafood, Fish


Data from 4,713 fisheries worldwide, representing 78% of global reported fish catch, are analyzed to estimate the status, trends, and benefits of alternative approaches to recovering depleted fisheries. For each fishery, we estimate current biological status and forecast the impacts of contrasting management regimes on catch, profit, and biomass of fish in the sea. We estimate unique recovery targets and trajectories for each fishery, calculate the year-by-year effects of alternative recovery approaches, and model how alternative institutional reforms affect recovery outcomes. Current status is highly heterogeneous-the median fishery is in poor health (overfished, with further overfishing occurring), although 32% of fisheries are in good biological, although not necessarily economic, condition. Our business-as-usual scenario projects further divergence and continued collapse for many of the world’s fisheries. Applying sound management reforms to global fisheries in our dataset could generate annual increases exceeding 16 million metric tons (MMT) in catch, $53 billion in profit, and 619 MMT in biomass relative to business as usual. We also find that, with appropriate reforms, recovery can happen quickly, with the median fishery taking under 10 y to reach recovery targets. Our results show that commonsense reforms to fishery management would dramatically improve overall fish abundance while increasing food security and profits.

Concepts: Catch and release, Fishing, Fisheries, Wild fisheries, Population dynamics of fisheries, Fisheries management, Fishery, Overfishing


Captive breeding and rearing are central elements in conservation, management, and recovery planning for many endangered species including Rio Grande Silvery Minnow, a North American freshwater cyprinid. Traditionally, the sole purpose of hatcheries was to produce as many fish as feasible for stocking and harvest. Production quotas are also an important consideration in hatchery programs for endangered species, but they must also maintain and maximize genetic diversity of fish produced through implementation of best breeding practices. Here, we assessed genetic outcomes and measures of productivity (number of eggs and larval viability) for three replicates of three mating designs that are used for this small, pelagic-spawning fish. These were 1) monogamous mating, 2) hormone-induced communal spawning, and 3) environmentally cued communal spawning. A total of 180 broodstock and 450 progeny were genotyped. Genetic diversity and egg productivity did not differ significantly among spawning designs (H e : F = 0.52, P = 0.67; H o : F = 0.12, P = 0.89; number of eggs: F = 3.59, P = 0.09), and there was evidence for variance in reproductive success among individuals in all three designs. Allelic richness declined from the broodstock to progeny generation in all breeding designs. There was no significant difference in the genetic effective size (regardless of the method used) among designs. Significantly more viable eggs were produced in environmentally cued communal spawn compared to the alternative strategies (F = 5.72, P = 0.04), but this strategy is the most difficult to implement.

Concepts: Implementation, Fishing, Ex-situ conservation, Design, Species, Conservation, Biodiversity, Endangered species


Global marine fisheries are currently underperforming, largely due to overfishing. An analysis of global databases finds that resource rent net of subsidies from rebuilt world fisheries could increase from the current negative US$13 billion to positive US$54 billion per year, resulting in a net gain of US$600 to US$1,400 billion in present value over fifty years after rebuilding. To realize this gain, governments need to implement a rebuilding program at a cost of about US$203 (US$130-US$292) billion in present value. We estimate that it would take just 12 years after rebuilding begins for the benefits to surpass the cost. Even without accounting for the potential boost to recreational fisheries, and ignoring ancillary and non-market values that would likely increase, the potential benefits of rebuilding global fisheries far outweigh the costs.

Concepts: Fishing, Fisheries, Ocean fisheries, Fisheries management, Wild fisheries, Overfishing, Population dynamics of fisheries, Fishery


Overfishing has dramatically depleted sharks and other large predatory fishes worldwide except for a few remote and/or well-protected areas. The islands of Darwin and Wolf in the far north of the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR) are known for their large shark abundance, making them a global scuba diving and conservation hotspot. Here we report quantitative estimates of fish abundance at Darwin and Wolf over two consecutive years using stereo-video surveys, which reveal the largest reef fish biomass ever reported (17.5 t [Formula: see text] on average), consisting largely of sharks. Despite this, the abundance of reef fishes around the GMR, such as groupers, has been severely reduced because of unsustainable fishing practices. Although Darwin and Wolf are within the GMR, they were not fully protected from fishing until March 2016. Given the ecological value and the economic importance of Darwin and Wolf for the dive tourism industry, the current protection should ensure the long-term conservation of this hotspot of unique global value.

Concepts: Oxygen, Pacific Ocean, Fishing, Coral reef, Scuba diving, Fish, Shark, Ecology


Recent work suggesting that fisheries depletions have turned the corner is misplaced because analysis was based largely on fisheries from better-managed developed-world fisheries. Some indicators of status show improvements in the minority of fisheries subjected to formal assessment. Other indicators, such as trophic level and catch time series, have been controversial. Nevertheless, several deeper analyses of the status of the majority of world fisheries confirm the previous dismal picture: serious depletions are the norm world-wide, management quality is poor, catch per effort is still declining. The performance of stock assessment itself may stand challenged by random environmental shifts and by the need to accommodate ecosystem-level effects. The global picture for further fisheries species extinctions, the degradation of ecosystem food webs and seafood security is indeed alarming. Moreover, marine ecosystems and their embedded fisheries are challenged in parallel by climate change, acidification, metabolic disruptors and other pollutants. Attempts to remedy the situation need to be urgent, focused, innovative and global.

Concepts: Fishing, Apex predator, Climate, Trophic level, Ecosystem, Ecology, Food chain, Fisheries


Fisheries bycatch of marine animals has been linked to population declines of multiple species, including many sea turtles. Altering the visual cues associated with fishing gear may reduce sea turtle bycatch. We examined the effectiveness of illuminating gillnets with ultraviolet (UV) light-emitting diodes for reducing green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) interactions. We found that the mean sea turtle capture rate was reduced by 39.7% in UV-illuminated nets compared with nets without illumination. In collaboration with commercial fishermen, we tested UV net illumination in a bottom-set gillnet fishery in Baja California, Mexico. We did not find any difference in overall target fish catch rate or market value between net types. These findings suggest that UV net illumination may have applications in coastal and pelagic gillnet fisheries to reduce sea turtle bycatch.

Concepts: Fishing, Kemp's Ridley, Reptile, Bycatch, Hawksbill turtle, Leatherback turtle, Sea turtle, Green turtle


Non-random mortality associated with commercial and recreational fisheries have the potential to cause evolutionary changes in fish populations. Inland recreational fisheries offer unique opportunities for the study of fisheries induced evolution due to the ability to replicate study systems, limited gene flow among populations, and the existence of unexploited reference populations. Experimental research has demonstrated that angling vulnerability is heritable in Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides, and is correlated with elevated resting metabolic rates (RMR) and higher fitness. However, whether such differences are present in wild populations is unclear. This study sought to quantify differences in RMR among replicated exploited and unexploited populations of Largemouth Bass. We collected age-0 Largemouth Bass from two Connecticut drinking water reservoirs unexploited by anglers for almost a century, and two exploited lakes, then transported and reared them in the same pond. Field RMR of individuals from each population was quantified using intermittent-flow respirometry. Individuals from unexploited reservoirs had a significantly higher mean RMR (6%) than individuals from exploited populations. These findings are consistent with expectations derived from artificial selection by angling on Largemouth Bass, suggesting that recreational angling may act as an evolutionary force influencing the metabolic rates of fishes in the wild. Reduced RMR as a result of fisheries induced evolution may have ecosystem level effects on energy demand, and be common in exploited recreational populations globally.

Concepts: Experiment, Catch and release, Genetics, Natural selection, Fishing, Largemouth bass, Metabolism, Evolution


Global fisheries landings data from a range of public sources was harmonised and mapped to 30-min spatial cells based on the distribution of the reported taxa and the fishing fleets involved. This data was extended to include the associated fishing gear used, as well as estimates of illegal, unregulated and unreported catch (IUU) and discards at sea. Expressed as catch rates, these results also separated small-scale fisheries from other fishing operations. The dataset covers 1950 to 2014 inclusive. Mapped catch allows study of the impacts of fisheries on habitats and fauna, on overlap with the diets of marine birds and mammals, and on the related use of fuels and release of greenhouse gases. The fine-scale spatial data can be aggregated to the exclusive economic zone claims of countries and will allow study of the value of landed marine products to their economies and food security, and to those of their trading partners.

Concepts: Bird, Data, Exclusive Economic Zone, Economy, Economics, Overfishing, Recreational fishing, Fishing


Half of the seafood consumed globally now comes from aquaculture, or farmed seafood. Aquaculture therefore plays an increasingly important role in the global food system, the environment, and human health. Traditionally, aquaculture feed has contained high levels of wild fish, which is unsustainable for ocean ecosystems as demand grows. The aquaculture industry is shifting to crop-based feed ingredients, such as soy, to replace wild fish as a feed source and allow for continued industry growth. This shift fundamentally links seafood production to terrestrial agriculture, and multidisciplinary research is needed to understand the ecological and environmental health implications. We provide basic estimates of the agricultural resource use associated with producing the top five crops used in commercial aquaculture feed. Aquaculture’s environmental footprint may now include nutrient and pesticide runoff from industrial crop production, and depending on where and how feed crops are produced, could be indirectly linked to associated negative health outcomes. We summarize key environmental health research on health effects associated with exposure to air, water, and soil contaminated by industrial crop production. Our review also finds that changes in the nutritional content of farmed seafood products due to altered feed composition could impact human nutrition. Based on our literature reviews and estimates of resource use, we present a conceptual framework describing the potential links between increasing use of crop-based ingredients in aquaculture and human health. Additional data and geographic sourcing information for crop-based ingredients are needed to fully assess the environmental health implications of this trend. This is especially critical in the context of a food system that is using both aquatic and terrestrial resources at unsustainable rates.

Concepts: Seafood, Fishing, Natural environment, Aquaculture, Health, Fish, Agriculture, Nutrition