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Primary productivity demands of global fishing fleets


Watson, R and Zeller, D and Pauly, D, Primary productivity demands of global fishing fleets, Fish and Fisheries, 15, (2) pp. 231-241. ISSN 1467-2960 (2014) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

DOI: doi:10.1111/faf.12013


To be sustainable, the extractive process of fishing requires biomass renewal via primary production driven by solar energy. Primary production required (PPR) estimates how much primary production is needed to replace the biomass of fisheries landings removed from marine ecosystems. Here, we examine the historical fishing behaviour of global fishing fleets, which parts of the food web they rely on, which ecosystems they fish and how intensively. Highly mobile European and Asian fleets have moved to ever more distant productive waters since the 1970s, especially once they are faced with the costs of access agreements for exclusive economic zones (EEZs) declared by host countries. We examine fleet PPR demands in the context of large marine ecosystems (LMEs), which are frequently fished with PPR demands well above their average primary productivity (PP). In some cases, this was mitigated by subsequent emigration of fleets or by management intervention. Fleet movements, however, have stressed additional marine areas, including the EEZs of developing countries. This suggests the potential for spatial serial depletion, if fishing capacity is not reduced to more sustainable PP removal levels. Fundamentally, fishing is limited by solar-powered PP limits. Fishing beyond solar production has occurred, but in the future, marine systems may not be as forgiving, especially if overfishing and climate change compromise their resilience.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:global fishing fleets, large marine ecosystem, marine fishing, primary production
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Fisheries sciences
Research Field:Aquaculture and fisheries stock assessment
Objective Division:Animal Production and Animal Primary Products
Objective Group:Fisheries - wild caught
Objective Field:Wild caught fin fish (excl. tuna)
UTAS Author:Watson, R (Professor Reginald Watson)
ID Code:84095
Year Published:2014 (online first 2013)
Web of Science® Times Cited:49
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2013-04-17
Last Modified:2016-12-06

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