Study backs community management to save world's fisheries
Paris (AFP) Jan 5, 2011
A study by marine scientists has given powerful backing to campaigners who say the future of many of the world's fisheries lies in co-management by government, local people and fishermen.
Publishing in the science journal Nature on Wednesday, researchers said the traditional "top-down" approach -- trawling quotas set down and policed by central authorities -- was failing in many fisheries as rules were often poorly implemented or abused.
The best-managed fisheries are those that bring together local representatives and fishermen who co-determine how the resources should be managed and enforce these decisions effectively, they said.
"They have very strong, cohesive communities with strong leaders," Nicolas Gutierrez, a University of Washington fishery scientist, who headed the paper, told AFP.
One billion people depend on fish or shellfish as their primary source of protein, but a third of fish stocks worldwide are overexploited or depleted, according to figures cited in the study.
Gutierrez and colleagues looked at 130 fisheries in 44 developed and developing countries, factoring in the size and location of the waters, the sustainability of the catches, the fishing gear used, the species fished, the regulatory system and wealth derived and shared from fishing.
Those that performed best shared responsibility between the government and users, rather than followed a rulebook conceived and directed by the central authorities.
Among the stars is a co-managed fishery of water snails, also known as Chilean abalone, which was tentatively launched in 1988 and covered initially four kilometres (2.5 miles) of Chile's coastline.
It now embraces 4,000 kms (2,500 miles) of coast and involves more than 20,000 artisanal fishers.
The study did not focus on deep-water international fisheries, Gutierrez said.
Most of the fisheries it investigated were generally within 50 nautical miles of the coast. Catching techniques included industrial trawlers as well as artisanal fishing.
Gutierrez added that governments or organisations seeking to strengthen community management in fisheries had to talent-spot strong leaders and these may need training in economics or ecology or given the help of experts.
earlier related report
Tuna yields in the first 10 months of 2010 dropped 16 percent because of disruptions to marine life caused by La Nina, data released by the Association of Tuna Companies from Ecuador indicated.
Exports of tuna and other salt water fish are a major source of foreign exchange revenue for Ecuador, an oil producer but still largely impoverished. More than 35 percent of Ecuador citizens eke out their livelihoods on fisheries or farms.
Atunec statistics showed the equatorial country's state-regulated Pacific fishing fleets caught 402,868 tons of tuna from January-October 2010, which was 16 percent less than the 478,633 tons landed in the same period in 2009.
Officials said the lower yield resulted from adverse weather conditions caused by La Nina, which creates the opposite of weather conditions usually associated with El Nino.
Ecuador, Chile and other Pacific Latin American countries experienced both La Nina and El Nino episodes in the past, sometimes with devastating results.
Scientists warned a new La Nina episode now in progress could last through the first several months of 2011. Business sources said the weather could greatly diminish Ecuador's earnings from tuna exports, estimated to be 70 percent of the country's foreign exchange earnings.
During the first 10 months of 2010, Ecuador's tuna exports fell both in volume and value compared to the previous year, the Central Bank of Ecuador said.
During last year, Ecuador exported nearly 125,000 tons of fresh, frozen and preserved tuna with a value of $472.9 million. This compared unfavorably with the 2009 statistics, when Ecuador exported 134,000 tons and earned $525.7 million.
The outlook for Ecuador's tuna output in the coming year remains uncertain, mainly because of La Nina, analysts said.
Strong La Nina episodes occurred during 1988-89. La Nina also caused damage in 1995 and again in 1999-2000. A minor La Nina episode affected the region in 2000 and 2001. A stronger La Nina phase developed in mid-2007 and went on through early 2009.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that moderate La Nina conditions that developed last year would likely continue at least into spring 2010.
The U.S. Climate Prediction Center is among regional environmental forecast services keenly watching developments in the Pacific, including the Ecuador coastline. La Nina effects cannot always be predictable. The flood in Pakistan last year was seen by scientists as a direct result of La Nina.
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Quito, Ecuador (UPI) Jan 4, 2011
Tuna fishing, a major resource for the Ecuadorian economy, has been hit by the vagaries of weather in the Pacific waters believed to have been caused by the La Nina phenomenon, officials said. Tuna yields in the first 10 months of 2010 dropped 16 percent because of disruptions to marine life caused by La Nina, data released by the Association of Tuna Companies from Ecuador indicated. ... read more
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