Marine Conservation Biology Institute Marine Conservation Biology Institute
Marine Conservation Biology Institute
Protecting Marine Ecoystems

Sustainability of Deep Sea Fisheries

Hawaiian Monk Seal
Redfish in a trawl net. Swim bladders are exploding from their mouths due to the change in pressure caused by being brought up quickly from depth. Image: G. Norooy

Deep-sea fisheries are almost completely a modern occurrence.  They began because nations have fished out their nearshore shallows and must go farther afield to maintain catch levels. MCBI’s science team is now following up on a 2006 workshop we held that examined the ecological and economic potential for sustainable deep-sea fisheries.

The workshop focused on what is known and unknown about the deep-sea species that are targeted by fisheries, like orange roughy and grenadiers, as well as the species affected by deep-sea fishing, like deep-sea sharks, corals and sponges.  Results of the conference were presented at a session at the 2007 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) chaired by MCBI Chief Scientist, Lance Morgan.

In addition, MCBI founder and President, Elliott Norse, and Daniel Pauly will be editors of a special issue of the journal Fish and Fisheries that will focus on the extraordinary population vulnerability of deep-sea species and the economic reasons why such species cannot be caught sustainably.

If deep-sea species cannot be fished sustainably, local populations will be depleted to extinction.  Hopefully governments and intergovernmental organizations that regulate fishing will adopt new and more stringent management measures before this can occur.


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Seamount Conservation - MCBI works with the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) to protect seamounts on the high seas. See our efforts in protecting these biodiversity hotspots.