Fish populations are rebounding thanks to stricter fisheries management

Nearly half of the fish caught worldwide are from stocks that are monitored and, on average, are increasing in abundance. Scientists believe this increase is due to better, regulated fishing practices that are allowing overfished populations to rebuild successfully. 

“There is a narrative that fish stocks are declining around the world, that fisheries management is failing and we need new solutions – and it’s totally wrong,” said Ray Hilborn, a professor at the University of Washington specializing in aquatic and fishery science. His research builds on a decade-long international collaboration to estimate the status of over 880 different fish stocks. In his research, he concludes that fisheries management is generally protecting fish stock around the world. 

According to Hillborn, when effective fisheries policies are enforced fish populations are allowed to subsist and grow. These policies may vary, but in general, regulations that prohibit the use of nets, fish traps or limit the average potential catch of a vessel help maintain a healthy population. Scientific rigor is also useful, as it is necessary for any species to be fished at a rate at which it may replenish its population. When management is well-coordinated, pressure on fish populations decreases. 

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