Global Study Finds Some Fisheries Rebounding when Managed Well

WCSs work in Kenya takes part of global assessment showing improvement in some fisheries 
Good management means more fish in the sea, research says

NEW YORK – A groundbreaking new study by the Wildlife Conservation Society and an international team of scientists brings surprising good news for some of the world’s fisheries: efforts to curb overfishing have begun to succeed giving hope that fish stocks can rebuild if given a chance.

The study examined global fish populations and fishing trends in ten large marine ecosystems and found that in five of the areas where intensive management is taking place, fish stocks were beginning to rebuild. The two-year study, published in the July 31st issue of the journal Science, was led by Boris Worm of Dalhousie University and Ray Hilborn of the University of Washington along with an international team of 19 co-authors including Wildlife Conservation Society conservationist Tim McClanahan.

According to the study, most of the fisheries that showed improvement are managed by wealthy industrialized nations with the U.S., Iceland, and New Zealand showing the most success.  However, a notable exception is in Kenya, where the Wildlife Conservation Society conducts long term fisheries research.  WCS has advised local managers and communities to close some key areas to fishing and restrict certain types of gear. This has led to an increase in the size and prices of fish available, and an increase in fishers’ incomes.

“Kenya has experienced first-hand the problems of unrestricted access to fisheries, which has led to overfishing.” said McClanahan. “However, in those areas where the lessons of good management have been applied, it has been a win-win situation, with improved fisheries subsequently improving the long-term livelihoods for fishers.”

“This study shows that given the opportunity, the world’s oceans can rebound from over-fishing,” said Dr. Caleb McClennen, Director of WCS’s Marine Program. “When considering the myriad environmental threats facing the world’s oceans, improved fisheries management is critical to the sustainability of both marine biodiversity and human livelihoods. This is particularly true in less-developed countries where coastal peoples depend upon the health of some of the world’s most bio-diverse marine ecosystems for survival on a daily basis.”

The study warns that many areas are still suffering from collapse of fisheries as a result of overfishing with some 63 percent of assessed fish stocks in need of re-building. The Wildlife Conservation Society works throughout the world’s four oceans to safeguard marine life and seascapes by encouraging good principles of fisheries management including restrictions of destructive gear, fisheries closures and rebuilding overfished stocks.

The work conducted by WCS for this publication was supported by the Tiffany & Co. Foundation and the Western Indian Marine Science Association.”

Contact:    Stephen Sautner: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org)
                    John Delaney: (1-718-220-3275; jdelaney@wcs.org)

For copies of the study, please contact Science’s press office: 1-202-326-6440 or scipak@aaas.org


The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit: www.wcs.org


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