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High value and long life: Double jeopardy for Tunas and Billfishes
Collette, B.B.; Carpenter, K.E.; Polidoro, B.A.; Juan-Jordá, M.J.; Boustany, A.; Die, D.J.; Elfes, C.; Fox, W.; Graves, J.; Harrison, L.R.; McManus, R.; Minte-Vera, C.V.; Nelson, R.; Restrepo, V.; Schratwieser, J.; Sun, C.-L.; Amorim, A.; Brick Peres, M.; Canales, C.; Cardenas, G.; Chang, S.-K.; Chiang, W.-C.; De Oliveira Leite Jr., N.; Harwell, H.; Lessa, R.; Fredou, F.L.; Oxenford, H.A.; Serra, R.; Shao, K.-T.; Sumaila, R.; Wang, S.-P.; Watson, R.; Yáñez, E. (2011). High value and long life: Double jeopardy for Tunas and Billfishes. Science (Wash.) 333(6040): 291-292 + online supporting material. dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1208730
In: Science (Washington). American Association for the Advancement of Science: Washington DC. ISSN 0036-8075, more
Peer reviewed article

Available in Authors 

Keywords
    Depleted stocks; Overfishing; Tuna fisheries; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Collette, B.B.
  • Carpenter, K.E.
  • Polidoro, B.A.
  • Juan-Jordá, M.J.
  • Boustany, A.
  • Die, D.J.
  • Elfes, C.
  • Fox, W.
  • Graves, J.
  • Harrison, L.R.
  • McManus, R.
  • Minte-Vera, C.V.
  • Nelson, R.
  • Restrepo, V.
  • Schratwieser, J.
  • Sun, C.-L.
  • Amorim, A.
  • Brick Peres, M.
  • Canales, C.
  • Cardenas, G.
  • Chang, S.-K.
  • Chiang, W.-C.
  • De Oliveira Leite Jr., N.
  • Harwell, H.
  • Lessa, R.
  • Fredou, F.L.
  • Oxenford, H.A.
  • Serra, R.
  • Shao, K.-T.
  • Sumaila, R.
  • Wang, S.-P.
  • Watson, R.
  • Yáñez, E.

Abstract
    There is growing concern that in spite of the healthy status of several epipelagic (living near the surface) fish stocks, some scombrid (tunas, bonitos, mackerels, and Spanish mackerels) and billfish (swordfish and marlins) species are heavily overfished and that there is a lack of resolve to protect against overexploitation driven by high prices. Many populations are exploited by multinational fisheries whose regulation, from a political perspective, is exceedingly difficult. Thus, assessment and management is complicated and sometimes ineffective. Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) were created to manage and conserve scombrids and billfishes because of their transnational distributions and widespread economic importance. However, species-specific catch data for many scombrids and billfishes are not collected or are aggregated with other species. Even for the larger tunas, for which relatively rich data exist, population assessments and data are complex and are difficult to combine across RFMOs, which prompts a need for alternative means of assessment.

    We present here the first standardized data on the global distribution, abundance, population trends, and impact of major threats for all known species of scombrids and billfishes. We used International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List criteria, which focus on global threats to a species but have not previously been used for a commercially important group of marine organisms. This required synthesis of global data from numerous fisheries reports and scientific publications.

    Our study is more optimistic than a previous, fundamentally different study using separate population data of 16 of the same species, as we show only five of those species meet the threshold for a threatened category. However, most of the long-lived, economically valuable species are considered threatened. As these large-bodied scombrids and billfishes are at the top of the pelagic food web, population reduction of these predators may have significant effects on the upper trophic levels of the epipelagic ecosystem and lead to cascading effects on lower trophic levels. Hence, there is an urgent need to establish the conservation status of this economically important group of species.

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