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Close the high seas to fishing?

Wild fish are in peril around the world, and in some places their populations are in precipitous decline. This is particularly true on the high seas, or international waters. Operating as a massive unregulated global commons, where any nation can take as much as it wants, the high seas are experiencing a latter-day “tragedy of the commons,” with the race for fish depleting stocks of tuna, billfish and other high-value migratory species. A new paper published in PLOS Biology written by SFG PI Christopher Costello and former SFG Postdoc Crow White suggests a bold approach to reversing this decline: close the high seas to fishing.

Sound like a radical notion? Not according to White and Costello, who found that such a policy could actually provide a triple-bottom-line benefit, increasing not only global stocks of high-value species, but also fisheries harvests and profits from them.

To learn more, check out the paper and recent media coverage:

Link to PLOS Biology article

NPR Press

UCSB Press

Does Fleet Diversity Matter?

Fishery sustainability is a widespread global concern. While much attention has been paid to preserving biological diversity, which is known to influence ecosystem functioning, relatively little attention has been paid to the role of fishing fleet diversity - in gear, fishing grounds, timing, and target species. In a recent study in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences​, SFG post-doc Matt Burgess modeled the impacts of fleet diversity in both managed and unmanaged fisheries and found that fleet diversity tended to increase the positive impacts of management on both the ecological and economic aspects of the fishery; and that even without management, increasing fleet diversity tended to reduce overfishing of weak stocks. The study was featured on several news outlets, including a segment on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's The Fisheries Broadcast, and on Bren School news.