Small-scale fisheries (SSF) have long been overshadowed by the concerns and perceived importance of the industrial sector in fisheries science and policy. Yet in recent decades, attention to SSF is on the rise, marked by a proliferation of scientific publications, the emergence of new global policy tools devoted to the small-scale sector, and concerted efforts to tally the size and impacts of SSF on a global scale. Given the rising tide of interest buoying SSF, it's pertinent to consider how the underlying definition shapes efforts to enumerate and scale up knowledge on the sector—indicating what dimensions of SSF count and consequently what gets counted. Existing studies assess how national fisheries policies define SSF, but to date, no studies systematically and empirically examine how the definition of SSF has been articulated in science, including whether and how definitions have changed over time. We systematically analyzed how SSF were defined in the peer-reviewed scientific literature drawing on a database of 1,723 articles published between 1960 and 2015. We coded a 25% random sample of articles (n = 434) from our database and found that nearly one-quarter did not define SSF. Among those that did proffer a definition, harvest technologies such as fishing boats and gear were the most common characteristics used. Comparing definitions over time, we identified two notable trends over the 65-year time period studied: a decreasing proportion of articles that defined SSF and an increasing reliance on technological dimensions like boats relative to sociocultural characteristics. Our results resonate with findings from similar research on the definition of SSF in national fisheries policies that also heavily rely on boat length. We call attention to several salient issues that are obscured by an overreliance on harvest technologies in definitions of SSF, including dynamics along the wider fisheries value chain and social relations such as gender. We discuss our findings considering new policies and emerging tools that could steer scientists and practitioners toward more encompassing, consistent, and relational means of defining SSF that circumvent some of the limitations of longstanding patterns in science and policy that impinge upon sustainable and just fisheries governance.
The following titles are freely-available, or include a link to a preprint or postprint.
The mesopelagic community is important for downward oceanic carbon transportation and is a potential food source for humans. Estimates of global mesopelagic fish biomass vary substantially (between 1 and 20 Gt). Here, we develop a global mesopelagic fish biomass model using daytime 38 kHz acoustic backscatter from deep scattering layers. Model backscatter arises predominantly from fish and siphonophores but the relative proportions of siphonophores and fish, and several of the parameters in the model, are uncertain. We use simulations to estimate biomass and the variance of biomass determined across three different scenarios; S1, where all fish have gas-filled swimbladders, and S2 and S3, where a proportion of fish do not. Our estimates of biomass ranged from 1.8 to 16 Gt (25–75% quartile ranges), and median values of S1 to S3 were 3.8, 4.6, and 8.3 Gt, respectively. A sensitivity analysis shows that for any given quantity of fish backscatter, the fish swimbladder volume, its size distribution and its aspect ratio are the parameters that cause most variation (i.e. lead to greatest uncertainty) in the biomass estimate. Determination of these parameters should be prioritized in future studies, as should determining the proportion of backscatter due to siphonophores.
This final manuscript in the special issue on “Funding for ocean conservation and sustainable fisheries” is the result of a dialogue aimed at connecting lead authors of the special issue manuscripts with relevant policymakers and practitioners. The dialogue took place over the course of a two-day workshop in December 2018, and this “coda” manuscript seeks to distil thinking around a series of key recurring topics raised throughout the workshop. These topics are collected into three broad categories, or “needs”: 1) a need for transparency, 2) a need for coherence, and 3) a need for improved monitoring of project impacts. While the special issue sought to collect new research into the latest trends and developments in the rapidly evolving world of funding for ocean conservation and sustainable fisheries, the insights collected during the workshop have helped to highlight remaining knowledge gaps. Therefore, each of the three “needs” identified within this manuscript is followed by a series of questions that the workshop participants identified as warranting further attention as part of a future research agenda. The crosscutting nature of many of the issues raised as well as the rapid pace of change that characterizes this funding landscape both pointed to a broader need for continued dialogue and study that reaches across the communities of research, policy and practice.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) have become an increasingly important tool to protect and conserve marine resources. However, there remains much debate about how effective MPAs are, especially in terms of their ability to protect mobile marine species such as teleost and chondrichthyan fishes. We used satellite and acoustic tags to assess the ability of a large oceanic MPA, the British Indian Ocean Territory MPA (BIOT MPA), to protect seven species of pelagic and reef-associated teleost and chondrichthyan fishes. We satellite-tagged 26 animals from six species (Blue Marlin, Reef Mantas, Sailfish, Silky Sharks, Silvertip Sharks, and Yellowfin Tuna), producing 2,735 days of movement data. We also acoustically tagged 121 sharks from two species (Grey Reef and Silvertip Sharks), which were monitored for up to 40 months across a large acoustic receiver array spanning the MPA. We found that the activity spaces of all satellite-tagged animals, including pelagic species, were much smaller than the area of the BIOT MPA, even taking into account errors associated with position estimates. Estimates of space use of acoustically tagged sharks, based on dynamic Brownian Bridge Movement Models (dBBMM), were also much smaller than the size of the MPA. However, we found important limitations when using dBBMM and demonstrate its sensitivity to both study duration and array design. We found that Grey Reef Sharks should be monitored for at least 1 year and Silvertip Sharks for 2 years before their activity space can be effectively estimated. We also demonstrate the potentially important role that intraspecific variability in spatial ecology may play in influencing the ability of MPAs to effectively protect populations of mobile species. Overall, our results suggest that, with effective enforcement, MPAs on the scale of the BIOT MPA potentially offer protection to a variety of pelagic and reef species with a range of spatial ecologies. We suggest that animals need to be tagged across seasons, years, and ontogenetic stages, in order to fully characterize their spatial ecology, which is fundamental to developing and implementing effective MPAs to conserve the full life history of target species.
This document was prepared to provide background information to facilitate the work of the Expert Meeting on OECMs in the Marine Fishery Sector organized by FAO, SCBD and IUCN-CEM-FEG , 7-10 May 2019 in Rome. It provides a rationale for the need of a specific guidance for the identification and use of OECMs in the marine fishery sector and the relations of such guidance with the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries. Grounded in the CBD COP Decision 14/8 of November 2018, the document provides a comprehensive set of comments and considerations on: (i) The OECM definition, guiding principles (on the roles of OECMs and their governance), and criteria for identification; (ii) Key concepts, cross-cutting issues and their implications in marine capture fisheries; (iii) the process of scientific identification of OECMs; (iv) Their management, monitoring and performance evaluation as well as auditing; (v) the eventual revision process; and (vi) the related governance issues.
Divers have widely participated in citizen science (CS) projects and are one of the main groups of marine citizen scientists. However, there is little knowledge about profiles of, and incentives for potential divers to join CS projects. To date, most studies have focused on the SCUBA diving industry; nevertheless, there is a diversity of divers, not all using SCUBA, who engage in different activities during their dives. Differences in diver profiles could affect their willingness and ability to contribute to CS. In this study, we compare the diving profile, interests, preferences and motivations to participate in CS of five diver types (artisanal fishermen, recreational divers, instructors, scientific divers, and others). All divers have strong interests in participating in CS projects, with no major differences among diver types. In general, they are interested in a wide variety of themes related to CS but they prefer simple sampling protocols. Divers are motivated to participate in CS to learn about the sea and contribute to science. Some important differences among diver types were found, with artisanal fishermen having significantly more dive experience than other diver types, but less free time during their dives and limited access to some communication channels and technologies. These characteristics make them ideal partners to contribute their local ecological knowledge (LEK) to local CS projects. In contrast, recreational divers have the least experience but most free time during their dives and good access to cameras and communications channels, making them suitable partners for large-scale CS projects that do not require a high level of species knowledge. Instructors and scientific divers are well-placed to coordinate and supervise CS activities. The results confirm that divers are not all alike and specific considerations have to be taken into account to improve the contribution of each diver type to CS. The findings provide essential information for the design of different types of CS projects. By considering the relevant incentives and opportunities for diverse diver groups, marine CS projects will make efficient gains in volunteer recruitment, retention, and collaborative generation of knowledge about the marine environment.
Understanding changes in wave attenuation by emergent vegetation as wetlands degrade or accrete over time is crucial for incorporation of wetlands into holistic coastal risk management. Linked SLAMM and XBeach models were used to investigate potential future changes in wave attenuation over a 50-year period in a degrading, subtropical wetland and a prograding, temperate wetland. These contrasting systems also have differing management contexts and were contrasted to demonstrate how the linked models can provide management-relevant insights. Morphological development of wetlands for different scenarios of sea-level rise and accretion was simulated with SLAMM and then coupled with different vegetation characteristics to predict the influence on future wave attenuation using XBeach. The geomorphological context, subsidence, and accretion resulted in large predicted reductions in the extent of vegetated land (e.g., wetland) and changes in wave height reduction potential across the wetland. These were exacerbated by increases in sea-level from +0.217 m to +0.386 m over a 50-year period, especially at the lowest accretion rates in the degrading wetland. Mangrove vegetation increased wave attenuation within the degrading, subtropical, saline wetland, while grazing reduced wave attenuation in the temperate, prograding wetland. Coastal management decisions and actions, related to coastal vegetation type and structure, have the potential to change future wave attenuation at a spatial scale relevant to coastal protection planning. Therefore, a coastal management approach that includes disaster risk reduction, biodiversity, and climate change, can be informed by coastal modeling tools, such as those demonstrated here for two contrasting case studies.
The severely degraded condition of many coral reefs worldwide calls for active interventions to rehabilitate their physical and biological structure and function, in addition to effective management of fisheries and no‐take reserves. Rehabilitation efforts to stabilize reef substratum sufficiently to support coral growth have been limited in size. We documented a large coral reef rehabilitation in Indonesia aiming to restore ecosystem functions by increasing live coral cover on a reef severely damaged by blast fishing and coral mining. The project deployed small, modular, open structures to stabilize rubble and to support transplanted coral fragments. Between 2013 to 2015, approximately 11,000 structures covering 7,000 m2 were deployed over 2 ha of a reef at a cost of US$174,000. Live coral cover on the structures increased from less than 10% initially to greater than 60% depending on depth, deployment date and location, and disturbances. The mean live coral cover in the rehabilitation area in October 2017 was higher than reported for reefs in many other areas in the Coral Triangle, including marine protected areas, but lower than in the no‐take reference reef. At least 42 coral species were observed growing on the structures. Surprisingly, during the massive coral bleaching in other regions during the 2014–2016 El Niño–Southern Oscillation event, bleaching in the rehabilitation area was less than 5% cover despite warm water (≥30°C). This project demonstrates that coral rehabilitation is achievable over large scales where coral reefs have been severely damaged and are under continuous anthropogenic disturbances in warming waters.
Although offshore wind energy development (OWED) offers a much-needed renewable energy alternative to fossil fuels, holistic and effective methods for evaluating environmental impacts on wildlife in both space and time have been lacking. The lengthy environmental compliance process, estimated to incur a 7–10 year permitting timeline , has been identified as a significant impediment to offshore energy development in U.S. waters. During operation, seabirds can collide and be displaced by turbines. During episodic pre-operation phases, cetaceans are most heavily impacted acoustically by pile driving (and similarly seismic air gun surveys for oil and gas exploration). The varying nature of impacts in space and time leads us to conclude that sites should be selected in space to minimize long-term operational impacts on seabirds, and timing of surveying and construction activities to be conducted in times of the year when sensitive migratory marine mammals are least present. We developed a novel spatiotemporal decision support framework that interactively visualizes tradeoffs between OWED industry profits and wildlife sensitivities, in both space and time. The framework highlights sites on a map that are the most profitable and least sensitive to seabirds. Within the U.S. Mid-Atlantic study area, the New York Call Areas are particularly well optimized for minimal impact on seabirds with maximal profits to OWED. For a given site, pre-operational activities (e.g. pile driving and seismic air gun surveying) are advised by cetacean sensitivity across months of the year that minimize impacts on migratory cetaceans, particularly those of highest conservation concern such as the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena Glacialis). For instance, within optimal sites for the New York Call Area the least impacting months are May and June. Other taxa are certainly affected by OWED and should be incorporated into this framework, but data on their distributions and/or sensitivities is currently less well known. Built with open-source software made publicly available, the authors hope this framework will be extended even more comprehensively into the future as our knowledge on species distributions and OWED sensitivities expands for streamlining environmental compliance.
In the Southern Ocean, the at‐sea distributions of most predators of Antarctic krill are poorly known, primarily because tracking studies have only been undertaken on a restricted set of species, and then only at a limited number of sites. For chinstrap penguins, one of the most abundant krill predators breeding across the Antarctic Peninsula, we show that habitat models developed utilizing the distance from the colony and the bearing to the shelf‐edge, adjusting for the at‐sea density of Pygoscelis penguins from other colonies, can be used to predict, with a high level of confidence, the at‐sea distribution of chinstrap penguins from untracked colonies during the breeding season. Comparison of predicted penguin distributions with outputs from a high‐resolution oceanographic model shows that chinstrap penguins prefer nearshore habitats, over shallow bathymetry, with slow‐flowing waters, but that they sometimes also travel to areas beyond the edge of the continental shelf where the faster‐flowing waters of the Coastal Current or the fronts of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current occur. In the slow‐moving shelf waters, large penguin colonies may lead to krill depletion during incubation and chick‐rearing periods when penguins are acting as central place foragers. The habitats used by chinstrap penguins are also locations preferentially used by the commercial krill fishery, one of the last under‐developed marine capture fisheries anywhere on the planet. As it develops, this fishery has the potential to compete with chinstrap penguins and other natural krill predators. Scaling our habitat models by chinstrap penguin population data demonstrates where overlap with the fishery is likely to be most important. Our results suggest that a better understanding of krill retention and krill depletion in areas used by natural predators and by the krill fishery are needed, and that risk management strategies for the fishery should include assessment of how krill movement can satisfy the demands of both natural predators and the fishery across a range of spatial and temporal scales. Such information will help regional management authorities better understand how plausible ecosystem‐based management frameworks could be developed to ensure sustainable co‐existence of the fishery and competing natural predators.
Spatial planning increasingly incorporates theoretical predictions that artificial habitats assist species movement at or beyond range edges, yet evidence for this is uncommon. We conducted surveys of highly mobile fauna (fishes) on artificial habitats (reefs) on the southeastern USA continental shelf to test whether, in comparison to natural reefs, artificial reefs enhance local abundance and biomass of fishes at their poleward range margins. Here, we show that while temperate fishes were more abundant on natural reefs, tropical, and subtropical fishes exhibited higher abundances and biomasses on deep (25–35 m) artificial reefs. Further analyses reveal that this effect depended on feeding guilds because planktivorous and piscivorous but not herbivorous fishes were more abundant on artificial reefs. This is potentially due to heightened prey availability on and structural complexity of artificial reefs. Our findings demonstrate that artificial habitats can facilitate highly mobile species at range edges and suggest these habitats assist poleward species movement.
This study synthesizes results from observations, laboratory experiments and models to showcase how the integration of scientific methods and indigenous knowledge can improve our understanding of (a) past and projected changes in environmental conditions and marine species; (b) their effects on social and ecological systems in the respective communities; and (c) support management and planning tools for climate change adaptation and mitigation. The study links climate-ecosystem-economic (CEE) models and discusses uncertainties within those tools. The example focuses on the key forage species in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (Western Canadian Arctic), i.e., Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida). Arctic cod can be trophically linked to sea-ice algae and pelagic primary producers and are key vectors for energy transfers from plankton to higher trophic levels (e.g., ringed seals, beluga), which are harvested by Inuit peoples. Fundamental changes in ice and ocean conditions in the region affect the marine ecosystem and fish habitat. Model simulations suggest increasing trends in oceanic phytoplankton and sea-ice algae with high interannual variability. The latter might be linked to interannual variations in Arctic cod abundance and mask trends in observations. CEE simulations incorporating physiological temperature limits data for the distribution of Arctic cod, result in an estimated 17% decrease in Arctic cod populations by the end of the century (high emission scenario), but suggest increases in abundance for other Arctic and sub-Arctic species. The Arctic cod decrease is largely caused by increased temperatures and constraints in northward migration, and could directly impact key subsistence species. Responses to acidification are still highly uncertain, but sensitivity simulations suggests an additional 1% decrease in Arctic cod populations due to pH impacts on growth and survival. Uncertainties remain with respect to detailed future changes, but general results are likely correct and in line with results from other approaches. To reduce uncertainties, higher resolution models with improved parameterizations and better understanding of the species' physiological limits are required. Arctic communities should be directly involved, receive tools and training to conduct local, unified research and food chain monitoring while decisions regarding commercial fisheries will need to be precautionary and adaptive in light of the existing uncertainties.
Ecological restoration of forests, meadows, reefs, or other foundational ecosystems during climate change depends on the discovery and use of individuals able to withstand future conditions. For coral reefs, climate-tolerant corals might not remain tolerant in different environments because of widespread environmental adjustment of coral physiology and symbionts. Here, we test if parent corals retain their heat tolerance in nursery settings, if simple proxies predict successful colonies, and if heat-tolerant corals suffer lower growth or survival in normal settings. Before the 2015 natural bleaching event in American Samoa, we set out 800 coral fragments from 80 colonies of four species selected by prior tests to have a range of intraspecific natural heat tolerance. After the event, nursery stock from heat-tolerant parents showed two to three times less bleaching across species than nursery stock from less tolerant parents. They also retained higher individual genetic diversity through the bleaching event than did less heat-tolerant corals. The three best proxies for thermal tolerance were response to experimental heat stress, location on the reef, and thermal microclimate. Molecular biomarkers were also predictive but were highly species specific. Colony genotype and symbiont genus played a similarly strong role in predicting bleaching. Combined, our results show that selecting for host and symbiont resilience produced a multispecies coral nursery that withstood multiple bleaching events, that proxies for thermal tolerance in restoration can work across species and be inexpensive, and that different coral clones within species reacted very differently to bleaching.
Model transferability is an emerging and important branch of predictive science that has grown primarily from a need to produce ecological forecasts in the face of widespread data deficiency and escalating environmental novelty. In our recent article in Trends in Ecology and Evolution , we outlined some of the major roadblocks that currently undermine the practice of model transfers in ecology. The response of Radchuk et al.  to our work stresses the value of considering ‘first principles’ in projections of ecosystem change  and offers insights into outstanding challenges specific to mechanistic (synonym: process-based) models .
The ocean knows no political borders. Ocean processes, like summertime wind-driven upwelling, stretch thousands of kilometers along the Northeast Pacific (NEP) coast. This upwelling drives marine ecosystem productivity and is modulated by weather systems and seasonal to interdecadal ocean-atmosphere variability. Major ocean currents in the NEP transport water properties such as heat, fresh water, nutrients, dissolved oxygen, pCO2, and pH close to the shore. The eastward North Pacific Current bifurcates offshore in the NEP, delivering open-ocean signals south into the California Current and north into the Gulf of Alaska. There is a large and growing number of NEP ocean observing elements operated by government agencies, Native American Tribes, First Nations groups, not-for-profit organizations, and private entities. Observing elements include moored and mobile platforms, shipboard repeat cruises, as well as land-based and estuarine stations. A wide range of multidisciplinary ocean sensors are deployed to track, for example, upwelling, downwelling, ocean productivity, harmful algal blooms, ocean acidification and hypoxia, seismic activity and tsunami wave propagation. Data delivery to shore and observatory controls are done through satellite and cell phone communication, and via seafloor cables. Remote sensing from satellites and land-based coastal radar provide broader spatial coverage, while numerical circulation and biogeochemical modeling complement ocean observing efforts. Models span from the deep ocean into the inland Salish Sea and estuaries. NEP ocean observing systems are used to understand regional processes and, together with numerical models, provide ocean forecasts. By sharing data, experiences and lessons learned, the regional ocean observatory is better than the sum of its parts.
The estuaries and continental shelf system of the United States Mid-Atlantic are subject to ocean acidification driven by atmospheric CO2, and coastal acidification caused by nearshore and land-sea interactions that include biological, chemical, and physical processes. These processes include freshwater and nutrient input from rivers and groundwater; tidally-driven outwelling of nutrients, inorganic carbon, alkalinity; high productivity and respiration; and hypoxia. Hence, these complex dynamic systems exhibit substantial daily, seasonal, and interannual variability that is not well captured by current acidification research on Mid-Atlantic organisms and ecosystems. We present recommendations for research priorities that target better understanding of the ecological impacts of acidification in the U. S. Mid-Atlantic region. Suggested priorities are: 1) Determining the impact of multiple stressors on our resource species as well as the magnitude of acidification; 2) Filling information gaps on major taxa and regionally important species in different life stages to improve understanding of their response to variable temporal scales and sources of acidification; 3) Improving experimental approaches to incorporate realistic environmental variability and gradients, include interactions with other environmental stressors, increase transferability to other systems or organisms, and evaluate community and ecosystem response; 4) Determining the capacity of important species to acclimate or adapt to changing ocean conditions; 5) Considering multi-disciplinary, ecosystem-level research that examines acidification impacts on biodiversity and biotic interactions; and 6) Connecting potential acidification-induced ecological impacts to ecosystem services and the economy. These recommendations, while developed for the Mid-Atlantic, can be applicable to other regions will help align research towards knowledge of potential larger-scale ecological and economic impacts.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are increasingly being used as conservation tools in the marine environment. Success of MPAs depends upon sound scientific design and societal support. Studies that have assessed societal preferences for temperate MPAs have generally done it without considering the existence of discrete groups of opinion within society and have largely considered offshore and deep-sea areas. This study quantifies societal preferences and economic support for coastal MPAs in Wales (UK) and assesses the presence of distinct groups of preference for MPA management, through a latent class choice experiment approach. Results show a general support for the protection of the marine environment in the form of MPAs and that society is willing to bear the costs derived from conservation. Despite a general opposition toward MPAs where human activities are completely excluded, there is some indication that three classes of preferences within society can be established regarding the management of potentially sea-floor damaging activities. This type of approach allows for the distinction between those respondents with positive preferences for particular types of management from those who experience disutility. We conclude that insights from these types of analyses can be used by policy-makers to identify those MPA designs and management combinations most likely to be supported by particular sectors of society.
This guide provides evidence-based advice on how to use the governance of marine protected areas to promote conservation and share sustainable marine resources. It has been developed using marine protected area (MPA) case studies from around the world. People who can benefit from this guide include planners, decision makers and practitioners engaged in marine protected area development and implementation, or those who have a general interest in protected area governance. It provides a governance framework and highlights key issues to address specific governance situations. It can be used as part of an adaptive management cycle. The case studies (page 12-13) highlight different governance approaches, challenges faced, and solutions implemented to achieve conservation objectives. Some marine protected areas are more effective than others, but they all highlight areas for improvement and indications of what could be implemented to enhance their effectiveness. All MPAs display unique characteristics and face their own complex combination of challenges. There is no "one size fits all" solution. This guidance recognizes this and provides a flexible approach to governance that can be relevant to any MPA and used on an ongoing basis. The case studies cover a variety of MPA types, including notake, multiple-use, small, large, remote, private, governmentled, decentralized and community-led MPAs. The global and varied examples used to support this guidance have demonstrated and highlighted the differences in the various roles that are taken within the governance and management of MPAs, between men and women as well as between different classes and ethnicities. These differences are identified across a variety of regions and cultural contexts, where there is not always equal opportunity to voice concerns and influence decisions and the benefits from protected areas are not equally distributed, frequently resulting in marginalization (Box 1). Global in scope, it recognizes the essential aspects of gender, class and ethnicity-related equality, as fundamental factors to achieving sustainable development goals and delivering effective and equitable governance of MPAs. This should be taken into account for all MPA governance projects to provide equality across all gender class and ethnicityrelated characteristics.
The dangerous effects of Abandoned, Lost or Discarded Fishing Gears (ALDFG) is documented in the literature. However, there exists an overall lack of understanding in quantifying the pollution loads of fishing gears (FG) in territorial waters or on the beaches. The lack of data on FG life cycle results in mismanagement of one of the troublesome resources across the globe. In the remote and data-less situations, local stakeholders’ knowledge remains the only source of information. Therefore, in this article, we propose:
A methodology to extract fishers’ knowledge (FK) for generating evidence on FG handling and management practices in Norway.
The stepwise approach includes mapping of relevant stakeholders, drafting and finalizing a structured questionnaire using the Delphi method among experts to build the consensus and finally, statistically analyzing the recorded responses from the fishers.
The questions are designed to extract both qualitative and quantitative information on purchase, repair, gear loss and disposal rates of commercial FGs.
The responses from 114 Norwegian fishers are recorded, analyzed and presented as a part of method validation.
The evidence from the survey is then used as an input to coin the regional FG handling and management strategies in Norway. The presented method is proven a robust strategy to retrieve scientific information from the local stakeholders’ and can easily be replicated elsewhere to build global evidence around the ALDFG problematic.
The rationale applied for monitoring and managing fisheries is based on the implicit assumption that yield and stocks status is essentially determined by fisheries. Moreover, the fisheries yield is quantified and analyzed in terms of landings with respect to official management area of registration of vessels. In this way, the real area of activity of each fleet is not considered and this prevent an effective spatial analysis of the factors affecting fisheries yield and stocks status. This paper firstly presents a VMS-based reconstruction of the fishing effort and of the area of activity of the Italian trawlers in the Mediterranean Sea. The fishing area of each fleet is then used as a spatial reference to estimate primary productivity rate and gross primary production and to investigate, by using General Additive Models, the effects of trawling effort, primary production and time on fisheries yield, fisheries productivity and overexploitation rate for some key demersal species. The results evidence that the usage of satellite-based information of fishing activities and of primary production, when combined at the real spatial scale of fishing activities, could effectively improve our ability to analyze the response of the ecosystems to these driving forces and allow capturing the main trends of yield, productivity and overexploitation rate of demersal stocks.