Solutions for Global Overfishing

The Sustainable Fisheries Foundation organized and sponsored a key symposium at the 2011 American Fisheries Society meeting. The ultimate goal was to explore solutions to ecological and food production issues. Please read on…..

Symposium Description
List of Presenters
Presentation Abstracts

 “Global Fisheries: Balancing Overfishing and Food Production

American Fisheries Society Symposium, September 9, 2011, Seattle, WA

Organizers:

Eric Knudsen, Ph.D. and Cleve Steward, M.Sc., Sustainable Fisheries Foundation,Snohomish,WA,USA
Shijie Zhou, Ph.D., CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Brisbane, Australia

Symposium Description:

There have been numerous scientific studies, and reports in the media, about the dire condition of the world’s fisheries. The warnings have included concerns about overfishing from biomass, age structure, food web, and habitat viewpoints. Additionally, several meta-analyses of large numbers of fisheries throughout the world have tended to emphasize the global nature and extent of overfishing. In response to these warnings, some authors have argued that the overfishing claims have been overestimated and that many of the stocks can withstand current fishing pressure to support food production.

This symposium tried to answer questions about local, regional, and global overfishing. What does overfishing mean biologically and ecologically? When is a stock deemed to be overfished? What are the latest scientific developments for assessing biological and ecological status of stocks? What are the optimum biomass, age structure, sex ratio, and trophic condition for a given stock? What are the ecosystem needs for healthy fisheries? How does fishing pressure on one stock affect the status of other stocks and ecosystem goods and services? What is the connection between seafood demand and fishing pressure? The symposium included case examples from fisheries around the world, focus on the scientific basis for determining stock status, and on theoretical studies on different types of overfishing and their combined ecological effects. Other talks focused on the balance between consumers’ demand for food production, the role of sustainable fisheries certification, and resource conservation.

The symposium will be of high interest to AFS members and is of great international import. It is expected that this symposium will a highlight of the AFS conference and it will likely attract wide media attention. Stakeholders include the fishing industry, fisheries scientists, marine ecologists, institutional and governmental policy experts, and food resource strategists. A synthesis paper summarizing the findings of the symposium will be prepared by the organizers and presenters.

PRESENTERS

2050 – Will There be Fish in the Ocean?
Villy Christensen, Fisheries Centre, Nereus Program,University ofBritish Columbia,Vancouver,BC,Canada

The Environmental Cost of Fishing – a Comparison to the Alternatives
Ray Hilborn, School ofAquatic and Fishery Sciences,University ofWashington,Seattle,WA

An Exposition on Overfishing
Brian Rothschild, Yue Jiao and Emily Keiley, Department of Fisheries Oceanography, School for Marine Science and Technology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, New Bedford, MA

Overfishing or Environmental Change: What Causes Changes in the Productivity of Marine Fish Stocks
Katyana Vert-Pre, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, Ray Hilborn, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, Olaf Jensen, Institute of Marine & Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ and Ricardo O. Amoroso, Centro Nacional Patagonico, Puerto Madryn, Argentina

Overfishing–It Is Selective!
Shijie Zhou, Marine and Atmospheric Research, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Brisbane, Australia and Tony Smith, Marine and Atmospheric Research, CSIRO, Hobart, Australia

Did Ten Billion Juvenile Sea Scallops Die in the Mid-Atlantic Due to Incidental Fishing Mortality?
Kevin D.E. Stokesbury, Department of Fisheries Oceanography, School for Marine Science and Technology,University of Massachusetts -Dartmouth, Fairhaven,MA

Ending Overfishing Through Use of Annual Catch Limits 
Richard D. Methot Jr., Office of Science and Technology, National Marine Fisheries Service, Silver Spring, MD

Use of Annual Catch Limits to Avoid Stock Depletion in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (Northeast Pacific)
Jane DiCosimo, North Pacific Fishery Management Council, Anchorage, AK

Economic Reasons Why Global Fisheries Must be Overfished 
Rashid Sumaila, Fisheries Economics Research Unit, Fisheries Centre,University ofBritish Columbia,Vancouver,BC,Canada

The Role of Marine Reserves in Rebuilding the Structure of Overexploited Ecosystems
Ashley McCrea-Strub and Daniel Pauly,University ofBritish Columbia,Vancouver,BC,Canada

Global Overfishing? Using Indicators as Measures of Ocean Health
Kristin Kleisner1, Dirk Zeller2 and Daniel Pauly2, (1)University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada, (2)Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Documenting Global Fishing Effort
Reg Watson, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada and William Cheung, Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Unintended Consequences of MSY Proxies for Defining Overfishing and Sustaining Fisheries
Steven X. Cadrin, Department of Fisheries Oceanography, School for Marine Science and Technology,University ofMassachusetts -Dartmouth, Fairhaven, MA

Overfishing and the RFMOs: Are They Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem?
Linda Paul, Ocean Law & Policy Institute, Pacific Forum CSIS, Kailua, HI

The Overfishing of Canadian Atlantic Cod: Prospects for Recovery
Jeffrey Hutchings,DalhousieUniversity,Halifax,NS,Canada

The Marine Stewardship Council’s Impact on Fisheries
Jim Humphreys1, David Agnew2, T. Cambridge2, S. Martin2, Chris Grieve3, Fiona Nimmo4 and Rod Cappell4, (1)Marine Stewardship Council,Seattle,WA, (2)MRAG Ltd,UK,London,United Kingdom, (3)Meridian Prime,London,United Kingdom, (4)Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd,Edinburgh,Scotland

The Role of the Media in Overfishing
Jennifer Jacquet, Fisheries Centre,University ofBritish Columbia,Vancouver, BC, Canada

From the Tragedy of Our Commons to the Communion of Our Commons
Barton Seaver, National Geographic Society, Washington, DC

Sushi and Sustainable Fisheries: A Restaurateur’s Perspective
Bun Lai, Miya’s Sushi Restaurant, New Haven, CT

Many Managed as One: Evaluating the Implications of Ignoring Spatial Complexity in Fish Stock Assessment and Management
Ashleen J. Benson and Sean P. Cox,School ofResource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada

An Assessment of Spatial Dynamics of Stock Structure for Three Gulf of Maine Groundfish Species
Alia W. Al-Humaidhi, Yong Chen and James Wilson, School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME

Responses to Density Reduction in a Fishery Stock: Consequences for Management Models
Robert Day1, Sylvain Huchette2, Cameron Dixon3, Patrick Gilmour1 and Luke McAvaney1, (1)Zoology, TheUniversity of Melbourne,Melbourne, Australia, Australia, (2)SCEAFrance Haliotis, Plougerneau, France, (3)Aquatic Sciences, South Australian Research and Development Institute, Adelaide, Australia

Using Simulation Models to Investigate the Impacts of P*-Based Control Rules on Stocks of Differing Life History Strategies
Emily Susko, Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA and James Berkson, RTR Unit at Virginia Tech, National Marine Fisheries Service, SEFSC, Blacksburg, VA

Evaluation of Various Biological Reference Points for Management of Atlantic Menhaden
Alexei Sharov, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Service, Annapolis,MD

PRESENTATION ABSTRACTS

2050 – Will There be Fish in the Ocean?
Villy Christensen, Fisheries Centre, Nereus Program,University ofBritish Columbia,Vancouver,BC,Canada

Will there be fish in the ocean in 2050? Opinions differ and many fear that our impact is so devastating that all fish supporting fisheries will be gone by 2050. Such statements create headlines, but how founded are they in reality? Alternative interpretations of data conclude that conditions are improving and we see improvements in fish populations. Music in managers’ ears, but is it the Titanic’s orchestra? With this in mind, we set out to make a global assessment of how fish biomass has changed over the last hundred years. We built on more than 200 data-rich, quantified descriptions of marine food webs representing marine ecosystems throughout the world from 1880 to 2007, and all constructed based on the same approach. We performed a standardized assessment wherein we ran the quantified food webs through a spatial model that distributed the biomass of their components based on habitat preferences, ecology, and feeding conditions. We extracted more than 68,000 estimates of fish biomass (for predatory and prey fishes, separately) distributed over time and space, and subsequently used multiple regression techniques to predict the biomass distribution as a function of year and environmental parameters. The regressions were highly significant and predict that the biomass of predatory fish in the world oceans has declined by two-thirds over the last hundred years.  This decline is accelerating, with 54% having taken place in the last 40 years. We also found that the biomass of prey fish has more than doubled over the last hundred years, likely as a consequence of predation release. Jointly, these findings allow us to predict that there will be fish in the ocean in 2050, but they will be mainly of small prey fish. Our study also addresses the controversy whether ‘fishing down the food web’, often based on the relative contributions of high vs. low trophic-level fish in fisheries catches, is a phenomenon actually occurring in nature or a sampling artifact due to catches not representing relative abundances in ecosystems. We note that our study is based on ecosystem models not on catch time series, and more generally, on data derived from commercial fisheries. Given our finding that predatory fish have decreased globally while prey fish has increased, our study strongly indicates that the impact of fisheries has caused fishing down the food web of ecosystem resources at the global level.

The Environmental Cost of Fishing – a Comparison to the Alternatives
Ray Hilborn,School ofAquatic and Fishery Sciences,University ofWashington,Seattle,WA

The environmental impacts of fishing have received considerable attention in the media and many NGOs have conducted campaigns to have retailers not sell species that they feel have too high an environmental cost.  The most common environmental costs of fishing are reduced abundance of target species,  impacts on non target species as by-catch and modification of sea floor by trawling and dredging.  Capture fisheries currently provide 20% of worlds animal protein production, and in many poor countries that proportion is much higher.  If we compare the environmental costs of capture fisheries, to the alternative forms of producing animal protein, we find that capture fisheries, on average per unit of food produced, have lower greenhouse gas production, lower use of freshwater, lower use of fertilizer, lower use of pesticides, lower use of antibiotics.  Unlike agriculture, sustainably managed fisheries maintain the basic structure and function of natural ecosystems while providing a major source of the human food supply.  Consumer certification is currently an important topic in the marketplace and many NGOs argue that the bar is set too low by groups such as the Marine Stewardship Council.  If we compare the relative environmental costs of alternative forms of food production, the standard set for seafood certification is far higher than for agriculture.


Abstract id# 4137

Start Time:

9:00 AM

An Exposition on Overfishing

 

Brian Rothschild, Yue Jiao and Emily Keiley, Department of Fisheries Oceanography, School for Marine Science and Technology, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, New Bedford, MA

 

Abstract Text:

 

The concept of overfishing was formulated in the 19th century as the result of declining stocks of plaice and herring in theNorth Sea.  However, the overfishing concept was difficult to define until the advent of quantitative fishing theory in the 1950s.  But even with the quantitative theory, the definition of overfishing remains abstract and illusory.  This paper discusses the overfishing and overfished concepts in terms of specific fisheries in New England in the context of specific case studies that consider the costs and benefits of over and underfishing inNew England.  In particular, the paper considers the scientific underpinning of the concept, the costs and benefits of overfishing/overfished as a management tool, and alternative approaches.


Abstract id# 4139

Start Time:

9:15 AM

Overfishing or Environmental Change: What Causes Changes in the Productivity of Marine Fish Stocks

 

Katyana Vert-Pre, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, Ray Hilborn, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, Olaf Jensen, Institute of Marine & Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ and Ricardo O. Amoroso, Centro Nacional Patagonico, Puerto Madryn, Argentina

 

Abstract Text:

 

The relative importance of environmental conditions and stock abundance in determining the productivity of fish stocks has been the subject of an on-going debate. There are three main perspectives: productivity is driven by fishing pressure; productivity is environmentally driven presenting regimes of good and bad productivity; productivity varies randomly. These hypotheses are not mutually exclusive: both stock size and fishing pressure can affect productivity, and productivity may occur randomly or alternate between regimes of good and bad conditions.
This project used historic data from worldwide assessments from the RAM II legacy database. The RAM II Legacy database was a resource of data on biomass and catch of 417 stocks of marine fish and invertebrates.  276 of these stocks had suitable time series to calculate the history of the production in each year. These stocks represented 29 large marine ecosystems over 60 years period.
The drivers of fish productivity were identified using AICc model selection to compare three models: a regime shift model accounting for states of high and low productivity; a production model relating surplus production to stock size; and a null model that assumes productivity to be random.  AICc multi-model weighting were used to evaluate the relative explanatory power of these three alternative hypotheses. It was found that more then 70% of the stocks were driven by regime shifts in environment, 18% were driven by fishing pressure and the 12% of the stocks had a productivity that varies randomly.


Abstract id# 4140

Start Time:

9:30 AM

Overfishing–It Is Selective!

 

Shijie Zhou, Marine and Atmospheric Research, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Brisbane, Australia and Tony Smith, Marine and Atmospheric Research, CSIRO, Hobart, Australia

 

Abstract Text:

 

Research on overfishing has largely focused on target species. The status and roles of the entire fish community have received little consideration in the debate of overfishing. Fishing by nature is always selective. Among more than 30,000 fish species, only a small proportion is targeted and an even smaller proportion overfished. The classical recruitment overfishing (catch too many spawners), growth overfishing (catch fish before they reach their critical age), and ecological overfishing (catch certain groups), are all selective overfishing. Biomass of large fish, top predators, or highly-valued species have declined more than that of smaller fish, forage species, or species with low economic value. If we take all fish species into consideration, the overall fishing mortality is likely to be less than 0.05 per year in the ocean. If this current global fishing mortality is redistributed proportionally to each species’ natural productivity, all species should be able to sustain such a fair pressure and overfishing may not occur to any one. We conducted sustainability assessment for fishing effect on hundreds of bycatch species and found that overfishing may occur to only a few vulnerable non-target species, but a large proportion of target species suffer high fishing pressure. The basic goals of fishery management aim to reduce impact on 1) biodiversity and 2) sustainability of fisheries. This requires distributing fishing pressure across a wider range of ecological groups in proportion to their productivity. Finding ways to utilize components that currently have low value to our society is the key to solve overfishing while meeting an increased demand for food and protein.


Abstract id# 8932

Start Time:

9:45 AM

Morning Break

 


Abstract id# 4152

Start Time:

10:15 AM

Did Ten Billion Juvenile Sea Scallops Die in the Mid-Atlantic Due to Incidental Fishing Mortality?

 

Kevin D.E. Stokesbury, Department of Fisheries Oceanography, School for Marine Science and Technology,University ofMassachusetts -Dartmouth,Fairhaven,MA

 

Abstract Text:

 

A single large year class in the Mid-Atlantic consisting of an estimated 1.31 x 1010 sea scallops was observed in 2003. This year class was 1.1 to 1.6 times greater than the entire scallop stock in any year between 2004 and 2009. Over half of these scallops vanished between 2003 and 2004. This apparent mortality episode was not likely caused by a shift in environmental conditions or by biological factors such as predation, senescence or food limitation. However, the majority of fishing effort during that year was focused in the Mid-Atlantic. During fishing operations these scallops were brought to the surface through water temperatures above the lethal limit and exposed to high air temperatures before being returned to the sea floor several hours later. Therefore, this mass mortality was likely the result of incidental fishing mortality. The recruitment event was reported to managers on 2 July 2003; however the area remained open to fishing for thirteen months before the Elephant Trunk Closed Area was established. Although the Elephant Trunk Closed Area has provided substantial landings for the past 5 years, the potential of the 2003 recruitment event was only partially realized. To achieve the full benefit of extreme recruitment events requires close ecological monitoring of the target species, real-time abundance and size distribution data and a management system that can respond rapidly.


Abstract id# 4214

Start Time:

10:30 AM

Ending Overfishing Through Use of Annual Catch Limits

 

Richard D. Methot Jr., Office of Science and Technology, National Marine Fisheries Service,Silver Spring,MD

 

Abstract Text:

 

The Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) provides the foundation for management of marine fisheries in the US.  In 2007, the MSA was amended to contain a provision that required establishment of Annual Catch Limits (ACLs) in all fisheries at a level “such that overfishing does not occur”.  Further, these ACLs are required to be accompanied by accountability measures and cannot be set above the fishing level recommendations (aka Acceptable Biological Catch, ABC) of the Scientific and Statistical Committees of the regional Fishery Management Councils.  In 2009, the National Standard 1 Guidelines were updated by NOAA Fisheries to provide more specific guidance for implementation of the MSA provisions.  In particular, the NS1G specify that there be a risk-neutral calculation of the level of catch that would be the best estimate of the overfishing level, a risk-averse calculation of the SSC’s ABC to take into account scientific uncertainty in the estimate of OFL, and further adjustments to catch targets to take into account management uncertainty in the ability to control annual catch to not exceed the ACL.  Where stock assessments are able to provide a reasonably comprehensive accounting of the uncertainty in assessment forecasts of OFL, the ABC level can be calculated in order to implement a specified probability, not to exceed 50%,  of overfishing taking into account the degree of uncertainty in the OFL.  There are two major implementation challenges.  One is the development of risk or trade-off analyses to inform the decision with regard the best choice for the acceptable probability of overfishing.  The other is development of suitable proxies for immeasurable quantities in fisheries that lack sufficient information to conduct a full assessment and suite of probability calculations.  All Fishery Management Councils in theUS are nearing completion of fishery plans to implement ACLs to transparently identify, and thus prevent, overfishing.


Abstract id# 4153

Start Time:

10:45 AM

Use of Annual Catch Limits to Avoid Stock Depletion in the Bering Sea andAleutian IslandsManagement Area (Northeast Pacific)

 

Jane DiCosimo, North Pacific Fishery Management Council,Anchorage,AK

 

Abstract Text:

 

Forty-one fish stocks inU.S.ocean waters continue to be fished at unsustainable levels and 46 fish stocks are overfished. In 2006, the U.S. Congress required the implementation of annual catch limits (ACLs) and accountability measures by 2011 to prevent overfishing, and by 2012 to recover overfished stocks. These requirements were modeled on the existing management system for Northeast Pacific groundfish, where more than 20 fish stocks and assemblages have been sustainably managed for 30 years. Science-based overfishing levels and acceptable biological catches (ABCs) have been implemented for each stock or assemblage, with buffers between the two to avoid overfishing. Total allowable catches are set at or below the acceptable biological catch. Suballocations of quota by season, area, and gear type, along with in-season fishery closures based on extensive observer coverage and vessel monitoring, assure that quota are not exceeded. To comply with ACL requirements, the NPFMC has defined ABC as an ACL. We demonstrate the effectiveness of ACLs for successful management of Northeast Pacific groundfish, suggesting that their use in otherU.S.fisheries may reduce the risk of overfishing and enhance the recovery of overfished stocks.


Abstract id# 4154

Start Time:

11:00 AM

Economic Reasons Why Global Fisheries Must be Overfished

 

Rashid Sumaila, Fisheries Economics Research Unit, Fisheries Centre,University ofBritish Columbia,Vancouver,BC,Canada

 

Abstract Text:

 

In this contribution, I will provide economic reasons why most of the world’s fisheries must be currently overfished. To start with, I consider a fishery overfished if it is being exploited using fishing effort that is higher than the fishing effort that would deliver maximum discounted economic rent from the fishery. Given this definition, I will present a number of theoretical and empirical arguments to show that most of the world’s fisheries can be described as overfished currently. Next, I expand the notion of overfishing to include fishing that undermines the existence value of marine resources and impacts the ability of future generations to meet their own animal protein needs from capture fisheries. This expanded definition of overfishing leads me to conclude that conventional approaches to economic valuation imply that global marine resources are currently overfished, for the most part.


Abstract id# 4181

Start Time:

11:15 AM

The Role of Marine Reserves in Rebuilding the Structure of Overexploited Ecosystems

 

Ashley McCrea-Strub and Daniel Pauly,University ofBritish Columbia,Vancouver,BC,Canada

 

Abstract Text:

 

Assuming adequate management and enforcement of no-take zones, marine reserves provide a potential mechanism for not only protecting biodiversity, but also mitigating the impacts of (over)fishing on ecosystem structure.  In fact, studies suggest that the refuge offered by marine reserves enables the rebuilding of populations of upper trophic-level predators over time.  This study presents a global synthesis of data collected from investigations of changes in community structure resulting from the establishment and implementation of marine reserves.   Data analyses reveal clear differences in trends in mean trophic level (MTL) across reserve boundaries as well as pre- and post-reserve establishment.  Overall, MTL is shown to increase over time within marine reserves.  Additionally, the rate of increase in MTL due to the existence reserves is compared to the rate of otherwise decreasing MTL evident both global and regional scales.  As evidence mounts that the condition of fisheries is declining worldwide, the protection provided by many marine reserves is demonstrated to reverse the trend towards ‘fishing down’ marine food webs.


Abstract id# 4182

Start Time:

11:30 AM

Global Overfishing? Using Indicators as Measures of Ocean Health

 

Kristin Kleisner1, Dirk Zeller2 and Daniel Pauly2, (1)University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada, (2)Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

 

Abstract Text:

 

The Sea Around Us project maintains a global database of spatially allocated marine catch, landed values, fishing effort, biodiversity, and related features, which is unique in that it is global, and is therefore the key source of spatial fisheries information used in numerous scientific studies.  This database is instrumental in developing various indicators of the impact of fishing at regional and global scales such as global catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE), fisheries subsidies relative to the landed value of the catch, the marine trophic level of the catch, and the proportion of fish stocks in an overfished or collapsed state.  These indicators are crucial to an evaluation of the health of the ocean both because fishing heavily impacts marine ecosystems and because these indicators can be calculated at a number of different spatial scales.

As a means of addressing the question of global overfishing, newly conceived ‘Stock-Catch Status Plots’ are presented, which document graphically, both the increase in the number of stock that have moved from fully exploited to overexploited and collapsed stages, and the relative biomass of fish extracted from stocks in these various phases.  Additionally we analyze progression time of the number of stocks within each fishery stage, and show that generally there has been an increase in the speed at which stocks are classified as ‘overexploited’ and ‘collapsed.’  These preliminary results indicate that overfishing is likely to continue to be a problem for more stocks. Despite this, there have been increases in the number and biomass of stocks that have been rebuilt.


Abstract id# 4183

Start Time:

11:45 AM

Documenting Global Fishing Effort

 

Reg Watson, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada and William Cheung, Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

 

Abstract Text:

 

A global dataset of fishing effort was compiled and mapped to a fine network of spatial cells. The compilation involved harmonizing data from FAO, the EU and other sources, interpolating missing data and standardizing units. The subsequent mapping process utilized databases already developed by the Sea Around Us project which describe the distribution of commercially fished marine fauna, the fishing patterns of countries, and the associations between catch and its value, and the fishing gears used to catch it. To facilitate future examinations of important patterns of ‘catch per unit of effort’, often associated with fisheries health, the development of the effort database and its mapping were done largely independently from the global catch database versions developed by the Sea Around Us project over the last decade. What was revealed are rich maps showing that global fishing fleets have spread to encompass all of the world’s oceans and their power has increased an average of 10-fold (25-fold for Asia) since the 1950s.


Abstract id# 8933

Start Time:

12:00 PM

Lunch Break

 


Abstract id# 4184

Start Time:

1:15 PM

Unintended Consequences of MSY Proxies for Defining Overfishing and Sustaining Fisheries

 

Steven X. Cadrin, Department of Fisheries Oceanography, School for Marine Science and Technology,University ofMassachusetts -Dartmouth,Fairhaven,MA

 

Abstract Text:

 

The foundations of fisheries science were built on defining overfishing as a fishery that removes more fish than biological production can replace. Early recognition of the importance of density-dependent production and compensatory population behavior led to the concept of maximum sustainable yield (MSY).  With sound theoretical basis, MSY and the fishing mortality that produces MSY (FMSY) have been global standards for fishery management for decades.  Scientific critiques of MSY and its application to fisheries management (e.g., MSY as a target, equilibrium assumptions, ecosystem considerations) have galvanized the concept, refining its definition and improving its implementation.  A current debate is over the common practice of replacing FMSY with more stable proxies that have nearly the same long-term yield at the expense of substantially less short-term yield and much greater stock biomass expectations.  As defined in the Magnuson Act, ‘overfishing’ means “a rate or level of fishing mortality that jeopardizes the capacity of a fishery to produce the maximum sustainable yield on a continuing basis” (i.e., FMSY).  Many FMSY proxies are used to define overfishing, because FMSY is not well determined, but direct estimates of FMSY and the uncertainty are more appropriate for implementing the national management strategy.  If catch limits are intended to represent stakeholder’s desired risk tolerance of overfishing, they should be based on FMSY whenever possible rather than a proxy for FMSY, because probability overfishing is confounded by proxies.  MSY proxies fail to recognize all MSY properties and its unifying role in fishery science and management.


Abstract id# 4480

Start Time:

1:30 PM

Overfishing and the RFMOs: Are They Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem?

 

Linda Paul, Ocean Law & Policy Institute, Pacific Forum CSIS,Kailua,HI

 

Abstract Text:

 

Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs) now manage most of the world’s straddling pelagic fish stocks.  Their decision-making processes are governed by multilateral treaties and their consensus-based conservation and management measures (CMMs) are created and adopted by commissions whose members represent the parties to the treaties.  The stated goals of the RFMO treaties aspire to achieve preservation and optimum utilization of highly migratory fish stocks throughout their range.  However even after years of effort the commissions have failed to reverse the continuing decline of almost every economically-important pelagic fish stock on the planet.  The failure to achieve treaty goals can be traced to the CMM-making process itself, which is slow, political, and in the end favors short term economic considerations.

Notable examples of this are the ICCAT’s management of Atlantic bluefin tuna and the WCPFC’s management of Pacific bigeye tuna.  Although both of these RFMO’s have been struggling to manage these stocks for years and data collection has improved greatly, catch level reductions have not been sufficient to prevent the overall biomass of the stocks from continuing to decline.  Large, reproductively-valuable individuals of both species are targeted by hook and line fisheries for the lucrative sashimi trade and there is a substantial take of juveniles by purse seiners.   The catch limits set by the ICCAT and the WCPFC almost always exceed those recommended by the commissions’ scientific bodies and tend to go into effect two to three years after the collection of the data that indicated the need for them.  Furthermore, a safety margin is not factored into the final catch limits to compensate for the impact of taking top predators on the pelagic ecosystem or the take by illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing operations.

To help correct the structural problems of the RFMO system, parties need to agree that science, not short term economic considerations, shall control the CMM process.  Catch levels must be set by the scientific bodies of the RFMOs, leaving the issue of how those levels are allocated to political considerations, but total take must never exceed the levels recommended by the science.  Other issues compromising effective management include the lack real time reporting, rapid data analysis and adaptive management measures, the tolerance of flags of convenience, the use of fish aggregation devices, and overcapacity.


Abstract id# 8347

Start Time:

1:45 PM

The Overfishing of Canadian Atlantic Cod: Prospects for Recovery

 

Jeffrey Hutchings,DalhousieUniversity,Halifax,NS,Canada

 

Abstract Text:

 

The fishing-induced decline of Canadian Atlantic cod in the early 1990s – perhaps the highest numerical loss of a Canadian vertebrate (1.5-2.5 billion reproductive individuals) – is among the greatest of fisheries collapses and is one from which the species has yet to recover. Despite massive reductions in fishing mortality, almost all stocks remain well below their conservation reference points. At least one is facing extirpation because of unsustainably high natural mortality. Depending on the stock, the lack of recovery can be attributed to ongoing fishing mortality (targeted, bycatch), changes to life history (reductions in age and size at maturity, truncations in age and size structure), and altered inter-specific interactions caused primarily by past fishing pressure. Emergent and demographic Allee effects, coupled with altered inter-specific interactions, render questionable the presumption that the recovery of heavily depleted populations can be reliably forecasted by population dynamical behaviour during decline.


Abstract id# 6234

Start Time:

2:00 PM

The Marine Stewardship Council’s Impact on Fisheries

 

Jim Humphreys1, David Agnew2, T. Cambridge2, S. Martin2, Chris Grieve3, Fiona Nimmo4 and Rod Cappell4, (1)Marine Stewardship Council,Seattle,WA, (2)MRAG Ltd,UK,London,United Kingdom, (3)Meridian Prime,London,United Kingdom, (4)Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd,Edinburgh,Scotland

 

Abstract Text:

 

The Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) Fisheries Ecolabeling program began in 1999 and over 13% of global wild capture fisheries are now engaged .  The MSC was created as a market incentive to help improve management of global fisheries, partly in response to collapses of several large and highly important  fisheries.  The basis for the MSC program is a voluntary audit of the fishery against MSC’s standard by third party Certification Bodies (CBs).  MSC requires CBs to use a defined methodology and guidance and to use teams of independent experts, peer reviewers, allow for stakeholder input, and provide transparency.

Starting in 2005, MSC reviewed the first 10 certified fisheries and found 89 environmental gains had occurred and certification appeared to stimulate about 65% of the gains observed.  Since the 2005 study, there has been significant growth in the number of fisheries entering the program. In 2009 the MSC developed a new methodology for assessment against its standard Principles and Criteria called the Fisheries Assessment Methodology (FAM), with the intent to standardize the assessments being undertaken by the third party CBs. In 2010 a new project was initiated to expand the original environmental gains analysis to take into account the large number of fisheries that are now available for analysis, including some that have used the FAM. The performance of 27 fisheries that have been certified with at least 2 annual surveillance audits, and 20 fisheries that have had at least one time-bound condition, is being examined.  The research team has reviewed specific MSC Outcome based performance indicators related to target stock status, target stock reference points, target stock rebuilding, non-target retained species, non-target by-catch, non-target ETP species, habitat, and ecosystems.

Results to date indicate that some improvements continue to be made in fisheries after they have been certified, whereas others simply maintained the sustainable level they had already achieved. For some fisheries and some indicators, reductions in performance are recorded, often as a result of environmental factors outside the control of the fishery, for instance recruitment.

This analysis is extended to consider not just the changes that have taken place within fisheries after they have been certified, but also those that took place prior to certification. This latter stage is being addressed through an analysis of the pre-assessments that are often undertaken on fisheries seeking certification. This work is ongoing, but results will be available at the time of the presentation.


Abstract id# 8346

Start Time:

2:15 PM

The Role of the Media in Overfishing

 

Jennifer Jacquet, Fisheries Centre,University ofBritish Columbia,Vancouver,BC,Canada

 

Abstract Text:

 

The theory of overfishing and determination of its degree and range are scientific issues.  But how to address overfishing is a public matter.  For that reason, public perception of overfishing and the status of global fish stocks is important to the accuracy, advancement, and support of public policy.  How has the science of overfishing been communicated to the broad audience over the last decade?  This talk will explore peer-reviewed research, media releases, popular imagery, mainstream television, and public perception related to the issue overfishing.  It will ask the expert audience to help in the development of an ethical framework for the communication of scientific results to broader audiences.


Abstract id# 8349

Start Time:

2:30 PM

From the Tragedy of Our Commons to the Communion of Our Commons

 

Barton Seaver, National Geographic Society,Washington,DC

 

Abstract Text:

 

The compelling narrative of ocean conservation is a story of responsible seafood consumption; a tale of keeping human needs and wants in balance with what nature can provide. And just as a shift in consumer tastes from small forage fish to large predatory species eventually led to the overharvesting of some of the most popular fish in the sea, there is an opportunity now to restore dwindling populations and damaged marine ecosystems by shifting those preferences back. Chefs can play a key role in influencing individuals’ preferences for seafood: from featuring recipes with lesser known sustainable species, to recommending lower trophic-level fish as a substitute for conventional predatory favorites, to reeducating the public on the seasonality of different seafoods, and on what constitutes an appropriate portion of protein. Each of these strategies can be effective at driving demand toward products that (directly or indirectly) support efforts to rebuild depleted populations and return ecosystems to balance. This is the concept of restorative seafood: the pathway from unsustainable to sustainable that connects the seafood eater to the fish in the water. Restorative seafood provides a context for our actions as consumers and allows for incremental improvement as the supply chain develops new habits and technologies to replace currently deleterious practices. It rewards fishermen that adopt ecosystem-sensitive harvesting methods, and restores our health as we learn to eat heart-healthy seafood in a responsible manner. In short, restorative seafood drives consumers toward a more diverse menu that emphasizes smaller more inherently sustainable species, and is how eaters must interact with ocean resources if diversity and abundance are to thrive once again.


Abstract id# 8722

Start Time:

2:45 PM

Sushi and Sustainable Fisheries: A Restaurateur’s Perspective

 

Bun Lai, Miya’s Sushi Restaurant,New Haven,CT

 

Abstract Text:

 

Award-winning chef and sushi restaurant owner Bun Lai will provide a first-hand perspective of the challenges faced by food service providers and consumers who want to act responsibly and support sustainable fisheries efforts.  Master Chef Lai, the recipient of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s prestigious 2011 Seafood Ambassador Award, is a well-known and articulate spokesperson for the Sustainable Seafood movement.  He will weave his personal experience into a thoughtful critique of the obstacles faced by sushi restaurateurs who want to offer a sustainable seafood-based cuisine.  One of the greatest challenges is overcoming the perception by the majority of consumers and people involved in the industry that sushi is synonymous with tuna and other “traditional” sushi ingredients, including many species that are vulnerable to overfishing.  Bun Lai’s experiences and the solutions he proposes provide a path to sustainability by increasing awareness and changing the preferences of purveyors and consumers of seafood.


Abstract id# 8934

Start Time:

3:00 PM

Afternoon Break

 


Abstract id# 5870

Start Time:

3:30 PM

Many Managed as One: Evaluating the Implications of Ignoring Spatial Complexity in Fish Stock Assessment and Management

 

Ashleen J. Benson and Sean P. Cox,School ofResource and Environmental Management,SimonFraserUniversity,Burnaby,BC,Canada

 

Abstract Text:

 

Spatial complexity is a common feature of marine fish populations that is often ignored in fisheries stock assessment and management. The rationale for assuming homogeneity of spatially structured populations is anchored in uncertainty about mechanisms governing population structure (e.g., dispersal rates, local population density, and life history variation), and extends to questions of data sufficiency for conducting spatially structured stock assessments. In this study, we develop a closed-loop simulation approach to evaluate how mis-matches between the spatial scales of fisheries management and fish population dynamics lead to management failures. Existing studies indicate that such a mis-match may lead to over-harvesting of the least productive sub-populations, and erode the spatial complexity that is believed to contribute to population resilience and persistence. However, these evaluations make simplifying assumptions about the spatial dynamics of fish populations, fisheries, or both, which makes it difficult to draw broad conclusions about the need for fine-scale fisheries management.

Our modelling approach involves two main components. First, we develop an operating model that simulates the spatial and temporal responses of multiple fish populations and fisheries to management regulations. The second component is a management procedure that determines annual total allowable catch limits based on survey data, stock assessment analyses, and a harvest control rule. A key assumption of the management procedure is that the fish population is a single, homogeneous stock. We test the management procedure against three operating model scenarios for fish population structure: (1) multiple, discrete subpopulations that are each closed to immigration and emigration; (2) a 50:50 mixture of discrete sub-populations and migratory populations;  and (3) multiple migratory populations that are fully mixed by a high rate of adult dispersal. The spatial dynamics of the fishery are determined by an ideal-free distribution, where the fishery responds rapidly to changes in sub-population biomass so that profitability is equalized among harvesting sites. A key feature of this model is that it allows profitability thresholds to drive the spatial dynamics of the fishery. We show that the least productive population components are protected from harvesting under moderate- to high-profit fishery scenarios. We demonstrate that high connectivity increases the productivity and profitability of fishing local populations, and yields relatively higher harvest rates on the population as a whole. Therefore, reconciling the spatial scales of assessment and population dynamics does not guarantee management success. Efforts to conserve spatially structured populations should focus on refining the scale of management control.


Abstract id# 6295

Start Time:

3:45 PM

An Assessment of Spatial Dynamics of Stock Structure forThreeGulfofMaineGroundfish Species

 

Alia W. Al-Humaidhi, Yong Chen and James Wilson, School of Marine Sciences,University ofMaine,Orono,ME

 

Abstract Text:

 

The Gulf of Maine Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) and white hake (Urophycis tenuis) stocks have declined and show slow signs of recovery, despite efforts by the Northeast Fisheries Management Council to reduce fishing mortality since the 1990s. One hypothesis explaining the lack of accelerated recovery is that there is an inconsistency of spatial scales in fisheries management relative to the underlying ecological boundaries. Managing stocks consistent with the ecological scale of the fishery may have an important impact on the recoverability of the stocks. The objective of this study is to evaluate this hypothesis. We have evaluated spatial variation in the stock structure of these groundfish species – in the inshore waters of theGulf ofMaine, using an eight-year data set (2001-2008) from the Maine Department of Marine Resources inshore trawl survey. The biological parameters we examined include maturity ratio, size structure, sex ratio, and condition factors (weight to length ratios) in each of the study areas across theGulf ofMaine.  Spatial variation of biological parameters between study areas for these species suggests that management needs to adjust to appropriately accommodate the spatial variation in stock structure.


Abstract id# 6502

Start Time:

4:00 PM

Responses to Density Reduction in a Fishery Stock: Consequences for Management Models

 

Robert Day1, Sylvain Huchette2, Cameron Dixon3, Patrick Gilmour1 and Luke McAvaney1, (1)Zoology, TheUniversity ofMelbourne,Melbourne,Australia,Australia, (2)SCEAFrance Haliotis,Plougerneau,France, (3)Aquatic Sciences, South Australian Research and Development Institute,Adelaide,Australia

 

Abstract Text:

 

To sustain harvesting over time, stocks must have compensatory density dependent (CDD) mechanisms. We studied CDD responses in greenlip abalone, at all life stages from settlement to reproduction, using controlled, replicated experiments on farms and in the wild. Settlement of larvae onto suitable algae showed no evidence of CDD, but post-larval mortality and growth are both strongly CDD. Juveniles seeded into replicated rock reefs showed weak CDD mortality (after initial mortality, from 3-9 months after seeding), but strongly CDD growth rates, and faster growth led to earlier maturation. Natural mortality of adults is known to be low.  At reduced densities, small adults increased growth markedly, but growth still declined to zero as they approached the asymptotic length for the site. All males increased testis size, but in females extra gonad growth increased progressively as they approached the asymptotic size. Overall, the strongest effect of reduced densities is CDD growth.

CDD growth is increasingly recognized as important, and is evident in lobsters and many fish stocks. Our simulations of population dynamics under fishing that incorporate strong CDD growth and weak CDD mortality and reproductive effects show that standard stock assessments may well be biased so as to increase the risk of fishery collapses, depending on the way fishing of adults would affect growth of smaller fish. Even if maturity is age determined, CDD will shorten the effective generation time as density is reduced under fishing, and standard models cannot fit this process.


Abstract id# 6799

Start Time:

4:15 PM

Using Simulation Models to Investigate the Impacts of P*-Based Control Rules on Stocks of Differing Life History Strategies

 

Emily Susko, Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA and James Berkson, RTR Unit at Virginia Tech, National Marine Fisheries Service, SEFSC, Blacksburg, VA

 

Abstract Text:

 

Decades of risk-prone management have led to worldwide declines, and even collapses, of marine fish populations. RecentU.S.legislation requires a more precautionary approach to federal fisheries management. Scientists’ catch level recommendations (Acceptable Biological Catches, ABCs) must now incorporate precautionary buffers, such that an ABC is lower than the estimate of a maximum safety threshold, the Overfishing Limit (OFL), to explicitly account for scientific uncertainty. Precaution is a risk-management decision, however, and managers must weigh the potential risks of overfishing a stock when determining an appropriate buffer size. Further exploration of how varying degrees of precaution succeed in mitigating risk is vital to advising management at this step.

A transparent approach to complying with these stipulations involves calculating the catch limit that corresponds to a specified probability, P*, of exceeding a “true” OFL located within an estimated distribution (P* = P (ABC > OFLTrue)). Thus, scientists describe the uncertainty in their estimations, but managers choose the value of P*, deciding the acceptable level of “risk.” This approach is conceptually appealing, and several regional management councils already employ P*-based control rules for determining ABCs. However, the methods for its implementation are not standardized, and the implications of specific P* choices are not well understood. Equal values of P* do not necessarily provide equal levels of precaution for the resource, nor do they imply equal impacts on fishermen and the fishery. Rather, the ramifications of P* choices depend heavily on the amount of uncertainty in the stock assessment and on the vulnerability of the species in question.

Drawing from classic fish life history theory, equilibrium strategists will have the hardest time recovering from years when the OFL is exceeded. Periodic strategists can better sustain occasional excesses but do not fare well under heavy sustained fishing pressure. Finally, opportunistic strategists are best able to withstand occasional overfishing. For this analysis, three South Atlanticspecies were chosen to represent these strategies: sandbar shark Carcharhinus plumbeus, vermilion snapper Rhomboplites aurorubens, and Atlantic menhaden Brevoortia tyrannus. Biological parameters drawn from recent stock assessments were incorporated into simplified statistical catch-at-age models. Reported OFL estimates were assigned a range of distributions to test degrees of uncertainty. The simulated populations were then fished according to ABCs derived from a range of P* values. In this way, predicted trends could be better quantified, and ultimately, the results can be generalized to inform management and support control rule decisions.


Abstract id# 7330

Start Time:

4:30 PM

Evaluation of Various Biological Reference Points for Management of Atlantic Menhaden

 

Alexei Sharov,Maryland Departmetn of Natural Resources, Fisheries Service,Annapolis,MD

 

Abstract Text:

 

Atlantic menhaden is the second largest fishery by volume in theUnited States.

In the past the fishery was regulated through a set of management triggers designed to describe the status of the population and the fishery. Since the adoption of Amendment 1 to FMP in 2004, a standard control rule with targets and limits for the fishing mortality and spawning biomass was used for fishery management.  Although regular stock assessments indicated that the population was not overfished, menhaden recruitment remained at low level since early 1990s and population abundance is currently at historic low.  I review the performance of various reference points both in single species (Frep, F%MSP, Fmsy) and multispecies (Biomass or numbers based ratio of prey and predator, minimum biomass allocation for predators) context. Historical estimates of population parameters and simulated population model are used for reference points evaluation. Various management strategies based on fishing mortality, catch and predator prey target ratio are also evaluated.