Impacts of fishing low-trophic level species on marine ecosystems

Smith, A.D.M.; Brown, C.J.; Bulman, C.M.; Fulton, E.A.; Johnson, P.; Kaplan, I.C.; Lozano-Montes, H.; Mackinson, S.; Marzloff, M.; Shannon, L.J.; Shin, Y.-J.; Tam, J.

Science 333(6046): 1147-1150

2011


ISSN/ISBN: 1095-9203
PMID: 21778363
DOI: 10.1126/science.1209395
Accession: 037432431

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Abstract
Low-trophic level species account for more than 30% of global fisheries production and contribute substantially to global food security. We used a range of ecosystem models to explore the effects of fishing low-trophic level species on marine ecosystems, including marine mammals and seabirds, and on other commercially important species. In five well-studied ecosystems, we found that fishing these species at conventional maximum sustainable yield (MSY) levels can have large impacts on other parts of the ecosystem, particularly when they constitute a high proportion of the biomass in the ecosystem or are highly connected in the food web. Halving exploitation rates would result in much lower impacts on marine ecosystems while still achieving 80% of MSY.