New technology allows fleets to double fishing capacity—and deplete fish stocks faster

New technology allows fleets to double fishing capacity -- and deplete fish stocks faster
The introduction of mechanisms such as GPS, fishfinders, echo-sounders or acoustic cameras, has led to an average 2% yearly increase in boats' capacity to capture fish. Credit: The University of British Columbia / Sea Around Us.

Technological advances are allowing commercial fishing fleets to double their fishing power every 35 years and put even more pressure on dwindling fish stocks, new research has found.

Researchers from the Sea Around Us initiative at the University of British Columbia analyzed more than 50 studies related to the increase in vessels' catching and found that the introduction of mechanisms such as GPS, fishfinders, echo-sounders or acoustic cameras, has led to an average two per cent yearly increase in boats' capacity to capture fish.

"This means that if a fleet has 10 boats today, one generation later, the same 10 boats have the fishing power of 20 vessels. The next generation, they have the power of 40 boats, and so on," said Deng Palomares, the Sea Around Us project manager and lead author of the study, which was published today in Ecology and Society.

An increase in fishing power is known as 'technological creep' and it's usually ignored by fisheries managers who are in charge of regulating how many days and hours and technique each vessel under their oversight is supposed to fish in a given period.

"This 'technological creep' is also ignored by most fisheries scientists in charge of proposing policies," said Daniel Pauly, the Sea Around Us principal investigator. "They tend to conduct short-term studies that only take into account nominal effort, which is, for example, the number of boats that fish using longlines in one year, employing 'x' number of people. However, they are disregarding the effective effort those vessels are deploying thanks to the technology that allows them to either maintain their catches or catch more fish."

In their paper, Palomares and Pauly propose a new equation that allows fisheries managers and scientists to easily estimate technological creep precisely and determine a fleet's effective effort.

"This is important because if you don't understand that the increase in power is happening, then you don't understand that you can deplete a stock," Pauly said. "We already know that marine fisheries catches have been declining by 1.2 million tonnes per year since 1996 so, by prompting boats to fish deeper and farther into the , these new technologies are only helping the industry compensate for the diminishing abundance of populations."


Explore further

More fishing vessels chasing fewer fish, new study finds

More information: Maria L. D. Palomares et al, On the creeping increase of vessels' fishing power, Ecology and Society (2019). DOI: 10.5751/ES-11136-240331
Journal information: Ecology and Society

Citation: New technology allows fleets to double fishing capacity—and deplete fish stocks faster (2019, September 16) retrieved 17 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-09-technology-fleets-fishing-capacityand-deplete.html
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Sep 17, 2019
Closed cycle aquaculture is really the only way we can continue. That means hatching and growing fish in an aquaculture plant rather than catching fish and growing them (like much of the tuna industry). Many fish species are very difficult to grow in aquaculture.

Another consideration is other animals who don't have gps etc, like whales and dolphins. There are also an increasing number of super trawlers from certain countries that are basically stripping the ocean bare then moving onto new areas.

Sep 17, 2019
You sure as hell ain't gonna aquaculture tuna. They have to have miles to swim, and they take a long time to grow big.

Sep 17, 2019
The Bering sea and the gulf of Alaska, one of the largest fish harvesting areas that exists for USA consumption is running out of Halibut.
I suppose a good point is the Pacific Cod moving in, there has been a twentyfold increase in the presence of Pacific Cod in what used to be Halibut habitat. A minor drawback is cod eat crab, so now the crab population is going away just like the Halibut.

Not just the tech is at fault, population pressure for more food than the ocean can sustain coupled with warming.

The cod moved in because the deeper ocean is now twelve degrees hotter than what it was twenty years ago. This is not a temporary fluctuation.
OH, and the Salmon are dying without spawning in the hot streams leading to their breeding areas.

The problem is complex and having research controlled by ignorance and misinformation does not bode well. Yes, it is politics that are going to end it for most of the world's population centers.

Sep 17, 2019
You sure as hell ain't gonna aquaculture tuna. They have to have miles to swim, and they take a long time to grow big.

Well, luckily there are smart people in the world.
https://www.youtu...XsmM-y9c

Sep 17, 2019
You sure as hell ain't gonna aquaculture tuna. They have to have miles to swim, and they take a long time to grow big.
"Aquaculture in Australia is the country's fastest growing primary industry, accounting for 34% of the total gross value of production of seafood. 10 species of fish are farmed in Australia, and production is dominated by southern bluefin tuna, Atlantic salmon and barramundi."

-Moron. Scheide is like shooting fish in a barrel.

Fish - who needs them? They're just little sieves filtering and concentrating all the water-borne contaminants for your consumption. Farm-raised full of diseases, worms, lice. Fake food much safer.

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