There are ample data that suggest fisheries exploitation affects not only target stocks but also communities of organisms, ecological processes, and even entire ecosystems. Conservationists, and the non-governmental organizations they represent, consider such impacts a cause for concern, because the loss of biodiversity that can result is largely irreversible. Those of us who view conservation of biodiversity as paramount need good scientific information to inform our decisions on advocacy, public awareness-raising, and support to field and policy projects. In light of what seems to be global, serial mismanagement of commercial fisheries, conservation groups advocate a number of measures to supplement – not replace – conventional fisheries management regimes. First, better information is needed on the true, ecosystem-wide impacts of fisheries activity, particularly where new fisheries are being launched, major gear modifications are taking place, and/or major expansion of fishing effort is occurring. Second, there must be a paradigm shift in the way evidence of impact is gathered, so that the burden of proof and the resources spent on trying to establish that proof are not the sole responsibility of conservationists. Third, greater use must be made of marine-protected areas as a tool to strengthen management and to provide control sites to further scientific understanding and promote adaptive management.
ICES Journal of Marine Science – Oxford University Press
Published: Jun 1, 2000
Keywords: biodiversity by-catch habitat marine protected area reserve
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