How to Sustain Fisheries: Expert Knowledge from 34 Nations
Ensuring productive and sustainable fisheries involves understanding the complex interactions between biology, environment, politics, management and governance. Fisheries are faced with a range of challenges, and without robust and careful management in place, levels of anthropogenic disturbance on ecosystems and fisheries are likely to have a continuous negative impact on biodiversity and fish stocks worldwide. Fisheries management agencies, therefore, need to be both efficient and effective in working towards long-term sustainable ecosystems and fisheries, while also being resilient to political and socioeconomic pressures. Marine governance, i.e., the processes of developing and implementing decisions over fisheries, often has to account for socioeconomic issues (such as unemployment and business developments) when they attract political attention and resources. This paper addresses the challenges of (1) identifying the main issues in attempting to ensure the sustainability of fisheries, and (2) how to bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and governance of marine systems. Utilising data gained from a survey of marine experts from 34 nations, we found that the main challenges perceived by fisheries experts were overfishing, habitat destruction, climate change and a lack of political will. Measures suggested to address these challenges did not demand any radical change, but included extant approaches, including ecosystem-based fisheries management with particular attention to closures, gear restrictions, use of individual transferable quotas (ITQs) and improved compliance, monitoring and control.
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