Towards responsible and sustainable fisheries

A billion people dependent on fish in the world  |  From years of  “miraculous fishing” to stock collapse  |  An unlikely return to initial state  |  Impacts
of fisheries on the marine ecosystem as a whole
  |  A worrisome reduction
in fish size
  |  Dynamics of exploitation systems  |  Towards
responsible and sustainable fisheries
  |  The Centre de Recherche
Halieutique Méditerranéenne et Tropicale

An unlikely return to initial state

The problem is not the stagnation of fishing catches alone. These risk to collapse in the future because the speed and intensity of exploitation on a world scale leave little chance of ensuring the viability of the resources exploited. A major preconceived idea has long been the recovery of collapsed fish stocks. Fisheries theory postulates that reducing fishing or a moratorium on fishing would allow fish stocks to be re-established more or less rapidly, given that species have a potential for strong growth.  But numerous observations contradict this idea. Only 7% of collapsed populations have recuperated their numbers after one generation. The example of codfish in Newfoundland is renowned. Despite a moratorium on codfishing following the collapse of stocks in 1992, the biomasss level remains still lower than that of 20 years ago, and no recovery has been observed. Many researchers are now in agreement concerning the weak capacity of resilience of marine populations (return to an initial state, either unperturbed or little perturbed). Overexploitation through fishing appears to be the principal cause in the past and present of the upsets observed in exploited marine ecosystems. Other factors such as pollution, the destruction of habitats, the introduction of species, and climatic changes modify ecosystems as well, and their impacts may overlap or combine with those of exploitation. A new context appears in which human activities engender upsets difficult to control.

Pêche industrielle au large des Seychelles