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Global ecosystem overfishing: clear delineation within real limits to production


Link, JS and Watson, RA, Global ecosystem overfishing: clear delineation within real limits to production, Science Advances, 5, (6) Article eaav0474. ISSN 2375-2548 (2019) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2019 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1126/sciadv.aav0474


The well-documented value of marine fisheries is threatened by overfishing. Management typically focuses on target populations but lacks effective tools to document or restrain overexploitation of marine ecosystems. Here, we present three indices and accompanying thresholds to detect and delineate ecosystem overfishing (EOF): the Fogarty, Friedland, and Ryther indices. These are based on widely available and readily interpreted catch and satellite data that link fisheries landings to primary production using known limits of trophic transfer efficiency. We propose theoretically and empirically based thresholds for each of those indices; with these criteria, several ecosystems are fished sustainably, but nearly 40 to 50% of tropical and temperate ecosystems exceed even extreme thresholds. Applying these criteria to global fisheries data results in strong evidence for two specific instances of EOF, increases in both pressure on tropical fish and a climate-mediated polar shift. Here, we show that these two patterns represent evidence for global EOF.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ecological indicator, overfishing, ecosystems, fishing
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Population ecology
Objective Division:Animal Production and Animal Primary Products
Objective Group:Fisheries - wild caught
Objective Field:Wild caught tuna
UTAS Author:Watson, RA (Professor Reginald Watson)
ID Code:133412
Year Published:2019
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP140101377)
Web of Science® Times Cited:47
Deposited By:Fisheries and Aquaculture
Deposited On:2019-06-27
Last Modified:2019-09-24
Downloads:21 View Download Statistics

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