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News Article | May 29, 2017

Marine fish are a diverse group of animals that play important roles in marine ecosystems, but are also a major food source for marine and terrestrial mammals, most notably humans. A new study, published today (Friday, May 26) in Nature Ecology & Evolution, has shown that the bigger the fish, the more likely it is to be threatened with extinction. This is because they are more susceptible to threats such as overfishing due to growing slower, taking longer to mature and having fewer offspring, as well as being more sought after for food consumption or sport. The team, which was made up of 44 researchers from all around the world, received funding from the European Commission (DG Environment) and the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS) to carry out the study. The study was part of a major effort to assess the extinction risk of fish carried out by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to produce the European Red List of Marine Fishes and saw the team assess over 1000 different species and the status of commercial fish 'stocks'. Further to this, the team aimed to find out if their data agreed with advice received from other government fisheries agencies. Fishery agencies assess whether fish stocks are overfished or not, and provide advice on how much fish can then be taken from a stock to ensure that the stock is sustainable. This is when fishing quotas or catch limits are implemented. The scientists studied the status of commercial fish stocks all around Europe and found a remarkable geographic contrast. Dr Paul Fernandes from the University of Aberdeen's School of Biological Sciences, explains: "In the northeast Atlantic in 2014, almost twice as many stocks were sustainably fished as overfished, 8 stocks were recovering (the fishing rate is not high, but their populations are small); and 19 were declining (their populations are healthy, but the fishing rate is now too high). "However, in the Mediterranean Sea, almost all stocks examined in our study were overfished (36 of 39) and not one was sustainable. This comes down to how the areas are managed and the unique nature of the fishing communities in the two areas. "In the northeast Atlantic, there is a complex - and expensive - fishery monitoring and enforcement system, which sets quotas and other regulations to keep fish stocks healthy. "In the Mediterranean, however, such monitoring and enforcement would be even more expensive, because there are many more fishermen scattered in many small fishing ports. Hence there are largely no quotas in the Mediterranean, only some protected areas and some limits on the amount of fishing time; the area also has more pressing economic and food security concerns. "Through this study, we have highlighted two major issues for Europe's fish: the threats to large fish, and the overfishing problem in the Mediterranean. Europe is proceeding with a Blue Growth agenda, aiming to expand its use of marine space in aquaculture, mining, renewable energy, tourism and biotechnology, but as it does so it needs to take care of the large fish, the so-called 'megafauna', and improve fishery management in the Mediterranean." Explore further: The worrying state of Mediterranean fish stocks More information: Paul G. Fernandes et al. Coherent assessments of Europe's marine fishes show regional divergence and megafauna loss, Nature Ecology & Evolution (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0170

Paterson D.M.,Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland | Paterson D.M.,Scottish Oceans Institute | Hanley N.D.,Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland | Hanley N.D.,University of Stirling | And 6 more authors.
Marine Ecology Progress Series | Year: 2011

Coastal zone ecosystems and the goods and services they provide are under increasing pressure from anthropogenic impacts. Climate change and demographic effects are particularly relevant, and it is critical to establish proper control systems (policies) to protect and conserve the wideranging benefits that these systems provide. The concept of 'holistic assessment', the Ecosystem Approach, is now being widely promoted, but the relationship between the science supporting this policy and the development of the policy itself is not always well-coordinated. This Theme Section discusses applications of science to coastal zone management and provides a critique of some approaches. © Inter-Research 2011.

Lacey N.C.,Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland | Jamieson A.J.,University of Aberdeen | Sereide F.,Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Sea Technology | Year: 2013

A prototype robotic vehicle system, the 11K, developed by Promare, recovered several remains of deep-sea animals on a deployment in 2012 to more than 8,000 meters depth in the Puerto Rico Trench. The samples recovered by 11 k were Scopelocheirus schellenbergi, a species of lysianassoid amphipod. The survival of these animals at extreme depths is thought to be due to a combination of diet plasticity, rapid consumption of relatively large food parcels, incredible pressure tolerance and the ability to survive long periods of starvation, as they are very reliant on infrequent food falls descending from overlying waters. The Puerto Rico 11 k samples will help scientists to investigate the genetic and evolutionary connectivity between these isolated ultradeep communities. A low-cost, easy-to-deploy, full ocean depth robotic vehicle system will allow for an increased exploration tempo in the deepest parts of the world's oceans.

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