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Media opportunity: New Dalhousie University study suggests nearly half of scientifically assessed global fish stocks may still be unhealthy, despite recovery efforts
A new report that re-evaluated scientific assessments of global fish stocks suggests that although there are signs of recovery in regions that are intensively managed, nearly half of commercially harvested species remain in a depleted state and two out of five are being fished unsustainably.
Researchers from Dalhousie University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and King Abdullah University of Saudi Arabia summarized the average health of global stocks using a range of alternative methods and found that recent recovery rates are only marginally above zero.
The findings, published in the journal PNAS, caution that recent analyses suggesting widespread recovery of scientifically assessed stocks may be overly optimistic and provide a false sense of security. Assessed stocks contribute more than half of the world’s marine fish harvest and have been the target of recent recovery efforts, including in Canada. The paper finds that despite these efforts almost one-third of these stocks are trending upward in exploitation rate.
Dr. Boris Worm, a Killam Research professor in Dalhousie’s Biology Department, co-authored the paper which found four of 10 methods suggest that recovery has not yet been achieved, while 48 per cent of individual stocks remain below biomass targets and 40 per cent are exploited above sustainable rates.
Dr. Worm is available to discuss the results that support a precautionary management approach to ensure a full rebuilding of depleted fisheries worldwide.
Senior Research Reporter
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