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Ecosystem Overfishing in the Ocean

AuthorsColl, Marta ; Libralato, Simone; Tudela, Sergi; Palomera, Isabel ; Pranovi, Fabio
KeywordsFishing impact
Trophic levels
Depletion of secondary production
Large marine ecosystems
Issue Date10-Dec-2008
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS ONE 3(12): e3881
AbstractFisheries catches represent a net export of mass and energy that can no longer be used by trophic levels higher than those fished. Thus, exploitation implies a depletion of secondary production of higher trophic levels (here the production of mass and energy by herbivores and carnivores in the ecosystem) due to the removal of prey. The depletion of secondary production due to the export of biomass and energy through catches was recently formulated as a proxy for evaluating the ecosystem impacts of fishing–i.e., the level of ecosystem overfishing. Here we evaluate the historical and current risk of ecosystem overfishing at a global scale by quantifying the depletion of secondary production using the best available fisheries and ecological data (i.e., catch and primary production). Our results highlight an increasing trend in the number of unsustainable fisheries (i.e., an increase in the risk of ecosystem overfishing) from the 1950s to the 2000s, and illustrate the worldwide geographic expansion of overfishing. These results enable to assess when and where fishing became unsustainable at the ecosystem level. At present, total catch per capita from Large Marine Ecosystems is at least twice the value estimated to ensure fishing at moderate sustainable levels
Description10 pages, 5 figures.-- PMCID: PMC2587707 [PubMed Central].-- Supporting informmation (figures S1-S2, tables S1-S5) available at the publisher's site
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0003881
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