Cascading ecological effects of eliminating fishery discards

Michael R. Heath, Robin M. Cook, Angus I. Cameron, David J. Morris, Douglas C. Speirs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Discarding by fisheries is perceived as contrary to responsible harvesting. Legislation seeking to end the practice is being introduced in many jurisdictions. But, discarded fish are food for a range of scavenging species so ending discarding may have ecological consequences. Here we investigate the sensitivity of ecological effects to discarding policies using an ecosystem model of the North Sea - a region where 30-40% of trawled fish catch is currently discarded. We show that landing the entire catch whilst fishing as usual has conservation penalties for seabirds, marine mammals and seabed fauna, and no benefit to fish stocks. However, combining landing obligations with changes in fishing practices to limit the capture of unwanted fish results in trophic cascades that can benefit birds, mammals and most fish stocks. Our results highlight the importance of considering the broader ecosystem consequences of fishery management policy, since species interactions may dissipate or negate intended benefits.
LanguageEnglish
Article number3893
Number of pages8
JournalNature Communications
Volume5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2014

Fingerprint

fishery discard
fisheries
Fisheries
fishes
Fish
Fishes
fishing
fish
Mammals
landing
ecosystems
trophic cascade
Landing
Ecosystem
ecosystem
Ecosystems
marine mammal
seabird
fishery management
Fisheries Management

Keywords

  • fisheries
  • discards
  • modelling
  • North Sea
  • fishery management

Cite this

@article{3a8653469b094fe891203c41057cb035,
title = "Cascading ecological effects of eliminating fishery discards",
abstract = "Discarding by fisheries is perceived as contrary to responsible harvesting. Legislation seeking to end the practice is being introduced in many jurisdictions. But, discarded fish are food for a range of scavenging species so ending discarding may have ecological consequences. Here we investigate the sensitivity of ecological effects to discarding policies using an ecosystem model of the North Sea - a region where 30-40{\%} of trawled fish catch is currently discarded. We show that landing the entire catch whilst fishing as usual has conservation penalties for seabirds, marine mammals and seabed fauna, and no benefit to fish stocks. However, combining landing obligations with changes in fishing practices to limit the capture of unwanted fish results in trophic cascades that can benefit birds, mammals and most fish stocks. Our results highlight the importance of considering the broader ecosystem consequences of fishery management policy, since species interactions may dissipate or negate intended benefits.",
keywords = "fisheries, discards, modelling, North Sea, fishery management",
author = "Heath, {Michael R.} and Cook, {Robin M.} and Cameron, {Angus I.} and Morris, {David J.} and Speirs, {Douglas C.}",
year = "2014",
month = "5",
day = "13",
doi = "10.1038/ncomms4893",
language = "English",
volume = "5",
journal = "Nature Communications",
issn = "2041-1723",

}

Cascading ecological effects of eliminating fishery discards. / Heath, Michael R.; Cook, Robin M.; Cameron, Angus I.; Morris, David J.; Speirs, Douglas C.

In: Nature Communications, Vol. 5, 3893, 13.05.2014.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Cascading ecological effects of eliminating fishery discards

AU - Heath, Michael R.

AU - Cook, Robin M.

AU - Cameron, Angus I.

AU - Morris, David J.

AU - Speirs, Douglas C.

PY - 2014/5/13

Y1 - 2014/5/13

N2 - Discarding by fisheries is perceived as contrary to responsible harvesting. Legislation seeking to end the practice is being introduced in many jurisdictions. But, discarded fish are food for a range of scavenging species so ending discarding may have ecological consequences. Here we investigate the sensitivity of ecological effects to discarding policies using an ecosystem model of the North Sea - a region where 30-40% of trawled fish catch is currently discarded. We show that landing the entire catch whilst fishing as usual has conservation penalties for seabirds, marine mammals and seabed fauna, and no benefit to fish stocks. However, combining landing obligations with changes in fishing practices to limit the capture of unwanted fish results in trophic cascades that can benefit birds, mammals and most fish stocks. Our results highlight the importance of considering the broader ecosystem consequences of fishery management policy, since species interactions may dissipate or negate intended benefits.

AB - Discarding by fisheries is perceived as contrary to responsible harvesting. Legislation seeking to end the practice is being introduced in many jurisdictions. But, discarded fish are food for a range of scavenging species so ending discarding may have ecological consequences. Here we investigate the sensitivity of ecological effects to discarding policies using an ecosystem model of the North Sea - a region where 30-40% of trawled fish catch is currently discarded. We show that landing the entire catch whilst fishing as usual has conservation penalties for seabirds, marine mammals and seabed fauna, and no benefit to fish stocks. However, combining landing obligations with changes in fishing practices to limit the capture of unwanted fish results in trophic cascades that can benefit birds, mammals and most fish stocks. Our results highlight the importance of considering the broader ecosystem consequences of fishery management policy, since species interactions may dissipate or negate intended benefits.

KW - fisheries

KW - discards

KW - modelling

KW - North Sea

KW - fishery management

UR - http://www.nature.com/ncomms/index.html

U2 - 10.1038/ncomms4893

DO - 10.1038/ncomms4893

M3 - Article

VL - 5

JO - Nature Communications

T2 - Nature Communications

JF - Nature Communications

SN - 2041-1723

M1 - 3893

ER -