March 2004

Changes in environment also influence fish stocks

Changes in environment also influence fish stocks: Marine biologists at last week's Royal Society meeting believe that environmental changes, such as global warming, may have as much of an impact on fish stocks as overfishing. Scientists investigated the impact on the marine food web of varying water temperatures and wind strengths in the North Atlantic. They found that fluctuations in the abundance, size and composition of plankton result in long-term changes in the numbers of large, commercially important fish, such as North Sea cod. These findings are being brought to the attention of the British government, as it is finalizing a report on the future of UK fisheries, which will set out Britain's fisheries management strategy for the next 15-20 years. To develop a sustainable fisheries policy, it will be crucial to determine how much of changing mortality patterns is due to fishing operations, and how much to environmental trends.

See "Climate findings let fishermen off the hook," Quirin Schiermeier, Nature, 3/4/04.