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Ecosystem-based fisheries management requires a change to the selective fishing philosophy

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 04:35 authored by Zhou, S, Smith, ADM, Punt, AE, Richardson, AJ, Gibbs, M, Fulton, EA, Pascoe, S, Bulman, C, Bayliss, P, Sainsbury, K
Globally, many fish species are overexploited, and many stocks have collapsed. This crisis, along with increasing concerns over flow-on effects on ecosystems, has caused a reevaluation of traditional fisheries management practices, and a new ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) paradigm has emerged. As part of this approach, selective fishing is widely encouraged in the belief that nonselective fishing has many adverse impacts. In particular, incidental bycatch is seen as wasteful and a negative feature of fishing, and methods to reduce bycatch are implemented in many fisheries. However, recent advances in fishery science and ecology suggest that a selective approach may also result in undesirable impacts both to fisheries and marine ecosystems. Selective fishing applies one or more of the "6-S" selections: species, stock, size, sex, season, and space. However, selective fishing alters biodiversity, which in turn changes ecosystem functioning and may affect fisheries production, hindering rather than helping achieve the goals of EBFM. We argue here that a "balanced exploitation" approach might alleviate many of the ecological effects of fishing by avoiding intensive removal of particular components of the ecosystem, while still supporting sustainable fisheries. This concept may require reducing exploitation rates on certain target species or groups to protect vulnerable components of the ecosystem. Benefits to society could be maintained or even increased because a greater proportion of the entire suite of harvested species is used.


Publication title

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Natl Acad Sciences

Place of publication

2101 Constitution Ave Nw, Washington, USA, Dc, 20418

Rights statement

Copyright © 2010 by the National Academy of Sciences

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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems

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