International
via Environmental Defense Fund

World - How Knowledge-Sharing Will Improve Multispecies Fisheries

While many single-species fisheries are becoming more sustainable thanks to science-based management strategies, multispecies fisheries often face greater sustainability challenges, and these challenges will grow in the face of climate change.

In many fisheries, many species are caught at the same time. These are called multispecies fisheries, and the fact that they catch many species together, with the same gears, means that the different species are caught at the same rate. The trouble is, some species are productive enough to withstand high catches while others are not. So as a result, the low-productivity species get fished out, reducing overall yield, markets for diverse species and economic and ecological resilience — resulting in serial depletion. While many single-species fisheries are becoming more sustainable thanks to science-based management strategies, multispecies fisheries often face greater sustainability challenges, and these challenges will grow in the face of climate change.

Multispecies fisheries may involve commercial, artisanal and recreational sectors and can be large-, medium- and small-scale, often spanning multiple landing sites. This complexity hinders monitoring and assessment to establish adaptive science-based management for resilient multispecies fisheries, and puts at risk food sources, jobs, profits and coastal community livelihoods and culture.

Worldwide, there is considerable interest in developing fishery management options that balance social, economic and ecological objectives for multispecies fisheries.

Ideally, multispecies fisheries management should strive not only to produce good yields from single stocks, but also to avoid serial depletion and prevent adverse impacts of fishing on marine ecosystems.

What are the options for multispecies fisheries? How can we balance the tradeoffs between traditional fishery management and other multispecies management options, while minimizing impacts on catch and profit of target species? Providing a platform at this year’s International Marine Conservation Congress, or IMCC6, to share experiences related to addressing these questions and managing multispecies fisheries in the face of climate change will allow for valuable dialogue and knowledge exchange. Bringing together scientists, academics and practitioners to share case studies offers the opportunity to identify lessons learned and to present strategies for managing multispecies fisheries options that could be scaled-up around the world. And, an exciting upcoming symposium at IMCC6 may provide a much-needed starting point.

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