Reflections on technology and science in fishery research

Last modified: 
October 10, 2017 - 4:00pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2017
Date published: 04/2017
Authors: David MacLennan
Journal title: ICES Journal of Marine Science
ISSN: 1054-3139

In the latter part of the 20th century, fishery research expanded from its original biological base to include new areas, notably investigations of fishing-gear performance and fish-detection by sonar. The past 50 years have seen huge advances in technology and the combination of physical and biological insights in fishery research. Fishing-gear investigations initially focussed on the economics of commercial fishing, but in the 1970s energy consumption in fishing became a major issue. Thereafter, the objectives changed to support for fishery management through gear innovations and research, giving a better understanding of exploitation patterns. During this period, fishery acoustics advanced from crude beginnings in the 1960s to the powerful stock-assessment tool it is today. Progress in these fields has depended on multi-disciplinary research involving both the physical and biological sciences. There have been failures along the way, but there is now good understanding of how technology as well as science can make a positive contribution to fishery management. This essay describes these developments as seen from my personal involvement over the past half century. It concludes with some pointers to the future, and practical advice to young researchers considering a career in fishery research.

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