Thursday, July 23, 2009

Small fisheries cuts could conserve large coastal ecosystems

Fish boats and birds harvest herring off Bowser, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. March 2009. (Photo by Michael Shepard)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Canada, July 22, 2009 (ENS) - A reduction of just five percent in fisheries catch could result in overfishing protection for one-third of British Columbia coastal ecosystems, finds new research from the University of British Columbia that has global importance for the protection of fish populations.

The study proposes modest catch reductions in areas where fisheries take place, rather than the current system of marine protected areas which only safeguard several commercially significant species, such as rockfish, shrimp, crab, or sea cucumber.

The article by Natalie Ban and Amanda Vincent of Project Seahorse at the UBC Fisheries Centre, is published today in PLoS ONE, an online journal of the Public Library of Science.

"The threat of over-fishing to our marine ecosystems is well-documented," says Ban, who recently completed her PhD at the UBC Fisheries Centre. "Our study suggests a different approach could reduce the impacts on fishers as well as helping us move towards achieving conservation goals."

Using British Columbia's coastal waters as a test case, the study affirms that small cuts in fishing – if they happen in the right places – could result in very large unfished areas.

For example, a two percent cut could result in unfished areas covering 20 percent of the B.C. coast, offering what the authors call "real conservation gains." …

Small Fisheries Cuts Could Conserve Large Coastal Ecosystems

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