British fisheries sweeping crumbs as stocks dwindle

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    News from Science magazine includes:

    Fish stocks are so depleted from their historical levels that it now takes British vessels almost 20 times the effort to land the same amount of fish that were caught at the end of the 19th century. That's the conclusion of a new study that examines more than a century of official fishing records from England, Wales, and Scotland. The work “clearly shows how inefficient fishing efforts have become,” says marine ecologist Boris Worm of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, who was not involved in the work. “They are sweeping up crumbs from what used to be a breadbasket."

    Today it takes 17 times as much fishing power to land a fish as it did in 1889, an LPUP of 3.4.

    The data show clearly that British fishers have had to become “very good at finding fish that are scarce,” says marine biologist Daniel Pauly of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, in Canada. Most fishers, however, don't notice how much harder it is to catch fish than it was for their fathers or grandfathers, he says.

    The politics of trying to set limits on fishing hasn’t gotten any easier since the 1880s, Roberts says. Nevertheless, he says he hopes the study demonstrates the changes the ocean has undergone “in a way that will resonate with the fishing industry and government officials: This is their own data.”

    British Trawlers Working Nearly 20 Times as Hard to Catch Fish


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