Mapping hotspots of undersized fish and crustaceans may aid sustainable fishing practices

IMAGE: The darker the shading, the higher the proportion of people caught commercially which are smaller than the EU-defined Minimum Conservation Reference Size. Individuals smaller than the MCRS should be landed…
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Credit: G. Milisenda and coathors

A brand new research in Frontiers in Marine Science offers a first-of-its-kind analysis of which areas of southern European seas are in essentially the most want of fishing restrictions. These areas have persistently proven excessive numbers of undersized fish and crustaceans, that are usually discarded as a result of they’re under the allowable measurement restrict for assortment. These findings may provide a method for prioritizing conservation efforts and guaranteeing extra sustainable fishery administration sooner or later.

“Natural fish populations need time to reproduce and recover from fishing impacts — this is the only way to achieve a balance between natural resources and human exploitation,” says lead creator Dr Giacomo Milisenda, of the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn di Napoli in Italy. “Our findings provide evidence supporting active spatial-based management, such as the designation of Fisheries Restricted Areas (FRAs) in order to minimize the capture of immature or undersized specimens and improve the sustainability of demersal — that is, sea floor — fisheries.”

According to a draft report from the European parliament in early January, Europe is much from reaching its marine sustainability and biodiversity targets. Despite the goals of the lately reformed EU Common Fishery Policy and commitments made by the European Commission, overfishing, habitat destruction and extreme discarding of undesirable catches are nonetheless ongoing issues.

The newest report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations discovered that 75% of Mediterranean and Black Sea fish shares are overfished. Furthermore, previous analysis has proven that, globally, greater than 40% of catches are thrown again. The FAO has additionally discovered that roughly 50% of the discarded fish from the Mediterranean Sea is the end result of demersal trawling — a technique of dragging nets throughout the ocean ground.

To determine the areas that often have excessive proportions of undesirable catches, Milisenda and his collaborators mixed backside trawling surveys with the itineraries of business fishing operations from the final 15 years. They centered on 4 of a very powerful fishing waters within the space: the continental Portuguese coast, Catalan Sea, South of Sicily and Liguria and northern Tyrrhenian Seas.

Their findings confirmed that there have been patches that had been repeatedly trawled, and that these areas ceaselessly coincided with sizzling spots of undersized animals. These strategies may additionally make it attainable to foretell and keep away from zones which are more likely to have too many of these smaller animals.

In response to January’s European parliament draft report, a coalition of NGOs has issued an pressing name for extra sources to safeguard European waters. The General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean has already been selling fishing restrictions that prioritize which areas to guard and Milisenda’s findings may assist higher plan present and future fishing operations.

The authors hope that their analysis will probably be utilized by governments and fishing operations to assist deal with these ongoing environmental emergencies.

“Spatial management can only be successful if it is combined with the active collaboration of stakeholders (fishermen) and an effective regulation plan,” says Milisenda.

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