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Declining fish supply linked to wildlife consumption in West Africa, Science study reports

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The authors of a 30-year study suggest that declines in fish supply in Ghana can lead to regional increases in the hunting, trade and human consumption of wildlife in this West African nation. Declining fish stocks suggest marine resources are nearing collapse due to overfishing by regional and foreign fleets, most notably fleets subsidized by the European Union. A fisheries collapse would have widely felt consequences for regional economies, human food supply and efforts to conserve nature on land, a new study suggests.

These findings appear in the 12 November 2004 issue of the journal Science, published by AAAS, the nonprofit science society.

The authors call for improved fisheries management from local nations and from the European Union in order to protect biodiversity and promote both food security and poverty eradication. They also emphasize the need for ecologically sound, inexpensive protein alternatives to wildlife and better conservation measures to protect remaining wild animal populations.

The researchers analyzed records of fish supply, fish abundance, wildlife hunting pressure and wildlife abundance. They found that years of poor fish supply coincided with increased hunting in nature reserves and sharp declines in wildlife abundance.

"Our study presents very strong evidence showing how human food supply can be directly related to conservation of wildlife," said Science author Justin Brashares from the University of California-Berkeley in Berkeley, California and the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, UK.

Brashares hopes this work will increase awareness of the idea that conservation can not occur in a vacuum. Local efforts to conserve a given species or system requires, for example
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Contact: Jessica Lawrence-Hurt
jlawrenc@aaas.org
1-202-326-7088
American Association for the Advancement of Science
11-Nov-2004


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