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Sustainability implications of honouring the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries

AuthorsColl, Marta ; Libralato, Simone; Pitcher, Tony J.; Solidoro, Cosimo; Tudela, Sergi
KeywordsSustainable fisheries
Marine resources
Code of conduct
Ecological indicators
Issue DateFeb-2013
CitationGlobal Environmental Change 23(1): 157-166 (2013
AbstractThe Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries developed in 1995 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations includes a set of recommendations for reducing the negative impacts of fishing activities on marine ecosystems. The Code is widely believed to be an important tool for fisheries management and, although the Code is voluntary, all stakeholders concerned with the management and development of fisheries, and conservation of fishery resources, are actively encouraged to implement it. Previous analysis at global scale showed widespread low compliance with the Code of Conduct that may be partly due to a lack of empirical support for the overall ecological benefits of adhering to the Code. Here we evaluated these ecological effects by comparing compliance with the Code to changes in five ecological indicators that quantify the ecosystem effects of fishing. We used the loss in production index and the related probability of sustainable fishing index, the mean trophic level of the catch, total catches, and the primary production required to sustain the catch. We also tested if regional differences and development status of countries influenced the results of ecological indicators. Results indicate that countries with higher levels of compliance with the FAO Code of Conduct in 2008 experienced a decrease in the Loss in Production index and an increase in fisheries sustainability from the 1990s to 2000s. We conclude that better implementation of the Code of Conduct may have had overall positive ecological effects with time. A significant decrease in total catch and primary production required with higher compliance was also observed. While a significant increase in ecosystem sustainability was observed after a decade of adoption of the Code at high levels of compliance, further ecosystem degradation had taken place where compliance with the Code was below a given threshold (4, from a ranking of 0–10). Therefore, since compliance with the Code is still low or very low worldwide, these results may encourage individual countries to adopt well-established fishery management measures in order to increase the ecological sustainability of marine resources.
Description10 pages, 7 figures, 2 tables.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2012.10.017
Appears in Collections:(ICM) Artículos
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