Member Highlight: New Study Maps How Ocean Currents Connect The World’s Fisheries

2019-06-24T12:44:37+00:00 June 24, 2019|
(Credit: Kevin Lino / NOAA/NMFS/Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center Blog)

(Credit: Kevin Lino/NOAA/NMFS/Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center Blog)

(From University of Delaware/ By Adam Thomas) — A new study published in the journal Science finds that the world’s marine fisheries form a single network, with over $10 billion worth of fish each year being caught in a country other than the one in which it spawned.

While fisheries are traditionally managed at the national level, the study reveals the degree to which each country’s fishing economy relies on the health of its neighbors’ spawning grounds, highlighting the need for greater international cooperation.

Led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, the London School of Economics, and the University of Delaware, the study used a particle tracking computer simulation to map the flow of fish larvae across national boundaries. It is the first to estimate the extent of larval transport globally, putting fishery management in a new perspective by identifying hotspots of regional interdependence where cooperative management is needed most.

“Now we have a map of how the world’s fisheries are interconnected, and where international cooperation is needed most urgently to conserve a natural resource that hundreds of millions of people rely on,” said coauthor Kimberly Oremus, assistant professor in UD’s School of Marine Science and Policy.

The vast majority of the world’s wild-caught marine fish, an estimated 90%, are caught within 200 miles of shore, within national jurisdictions. Yet even these fish can be carried far from their spawning grounds by currents in their larval stage, before they’re able to swim. This means that while countries have set national maritime boundaries, the ocean is made up of a highly interconnected network where most countries depend on their neighbors to properly manage their own fisheries. Understanding the nature of this network is an important step toward more effective…

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