Ecological Geography as Framework for a Transition toward Responsible Fishing

D. Pauly, R. Watson, V. Christensen, (2003). “Ecological Geography as Framework for a Transition toward Responsible Fishing,” Responsible Fisheries in the Marine Ecosystem. (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)

Meeting the widely expressed requirement that fisheries should somehow be managed on an ‘ecosystem basis’ implies that fisheries-relevant ecological processes, and the fisheries themselves, need to be documented in the form of maps. This allows recovery, in intuitive fashion, of at least some of the many dimensions of the complex ecosystems in which the fisheries are embedded. The implied transition, in fisheries science, from bivariate time series, to maps as major heuristic devices has a number of implications, some obvious, some less so, of which a number are here discussed and illustrated.Amongthe issues covered are: (i) the requirement for a consensus taxonomy of large marine ecosystems, (ii) the need to construct fisheries catch maps in the absence of positive records of what was caught where, (iii) the proper identification of one’s audience, and (iv) the mapping of marine protected areas and reserves. The seriousness of the fisheries crisis is emphasized, and the case is made that fisheries, if ever they are going to achieve some measure of sustainability, however defined, ultimately will have to be limited not only through the amount of effort they can effectively deploy, but also limited in space, leading to a change to the defaults under which fisheries operate, currently set such that all aquatic wildlife can be exploited, if under some restrictions.