An Eco-systems Approach to Fisheries Management
Marine fisheries are one of the last activities where humans directly exploit natural resources of wild animal populations. The FAO reports that global fisheries yield approximately 120 million tonnes of fish and fisheries products per year, supporting the livelihood of 140 million people worldwide.
Unsustainable overfishing can lead to depletion of fish stocks to unnacceptable levels, as happened with the Peruvian anchovy fisheries in the 1970's, and the collapse of the Newfoundland cod industry in the early 1990's.
The health of the marine ecosystem dictates the productivity of the fisheries and likewise, fisheries have an effect on and are affected by the supporting ecosystem. A productive fishing industry will provide food, revenue, employment and livelihood to many people who depend on it. If the industry is to survive for present and future generations whose livelihoods depend on it, we must understand and respect the interactions between fisheries and their supporting ecosystem. In other words, we must adopt an ecosystems approach to fisheries management.
The objective of an ecosystem based management is to ensure that fishery management decisions do not adversely affect the ecosystem function and productivity, so that harvesting of target stocks is sustainable in the long-term.
Marine Nature Conservation
Clean, healthy, safe, productive, and biologically diverse seas and coastal environments are needed to meet the long term needs of humans and nature. To achieve this, species must be conserved and areas protected in order to achieve a good environmental status. This requires biodiversity research and the allocation of marine protected areas and careful marine planning and policy making.
The need to maintain, conserve and restore biodiversity, and protect top predators competing with fisheries, is explicit in much of the legislation and long term goals of fisheries management authorities worldwide over the coming years.
Research is important in order to improve our understanding of our functioning marine ecosystems, the impacts humans have on our living resources and their environment and to ensure the sustainability of fisheries management practices.
The research associated with fisheries is diverse and varied and can involve projects relating to aquaculture and fish health, freshwater fisheries, sustainable sea fisheries, our marine ecosystem and marine renewable energy.
This work is on-going and operates to time-schedules to keep in line with funding and governement objectives and includes boat and shore based monitoring, lab work, designing and implementing new monitoring equipment, and computer software and GIS systems to analyse large date sets, model data and prepare information to be distributed.