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New science sheds light on rebuilding fisheries

Washington D.C. (Press Conference: Saturday Feb. 19th, 1:00 PM Eastern) In a scientific double whammy, researchers report that fishing pressure is causing fish to evolve to smaller sizes, just as new studies show that larger fish are critical to sustaining populations. In species such as Pacific rockfish, the big, old females not only produce exponentially more eggs than younger, smaller females, but their hearty larvae have a far greater chance of survival. Keeping these big fish in the water increases the chances of strong population numbers in the next generation which is paramount to the recovery of overfished stocks.

Representing three fisheries science sessions from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting, Steve Berkeley of UC Santa Cruz, Larry Crowder of Duke University, Andy Rosenberg of the University of New Hampshire and a member of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, and Jeremy Jackson of Scripps Institution of Oceanography highlight the latest advances in genetics, biology, and evolutionary science that point to new strategies for maintaining fisheries.

As a former leader in the National Marine Fisheries Service, Andy Rosenberg has faced the difficult realities of implementing new fisheries policies. "Over the last ten years the management struggle has been to begin to bring massive overexploitation under control, and that struggle has had some success but rebuilding fish-stocks is another matter," says Rosenberg.

"Many scientists and managers are converging on similar issues something is just not right with how we are doing things," says Steve Berkeley.

Old Fish Never Retire

Fishing disproportionately removes older fish - which are larger and more highly prized. In fact, management often seeks to shift fishing pressure to these older fish in an effort to let younger, fast growing fish reach spawning age.

Researchers have long known that older f
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Contact: Jessica Brown
jbrown@seaweb.org
202-497-8375
SeaWeb
19-Feb-2005


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