R. Watson, T. Morato, (2004). “Exploitation Patterns in Seamount Fisheries: A Preliminary Analysis,” Fisheries Centre Research Reports No. 12 (Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Serious stock depletion on continental shelves helped create new pressure for alternative fishing grounds. In particular, seamounts were among those ?newly? targeted ecosystems that have been intensively fished since the second half of the 20th century. But what are the seamount fisheries? How have their catches changed in recent years? Can we map where these catches are taken? This paper describes the progress of this work. Most seamount species are also found on the continental slope, making the allocation of reported catches to specific seamounts difficult. Thus, future mapping of landings will require species distributions that allow proportioning of catches between slope areas and those taken on seamounts. Catches of fishes identified as mostly occurring on seamounts only began in 1967, initially with the Orange roughy fishery. The catches of these species have only continued because new seamounts with harvestable stocks were discovered as fisheries collapsed, and because new stocks or species were targeted. A pattern of successive rapid development and decline is evident. While the percent of fisheries that collapsed is somewhat similar for seamount species and those not associated with seamounts, it is obvious that those fisheries that are based on species found only on seamounts have collapsed with greater frequency and had poorer recovery. This points towards the conclusion that not only seamount fisheries, but deep-water trawling in general, may not be sustainable in the long term.