Trends, drivers, and ecosystem effects of expanding global invertebrate fisheries
Anderson, Sean Charles
MetadataShow full item record
Worldwide, finfish fisheries receive increasing assessment and regulation, slowly leading to more sustainable exploitation and rebuilding. In their wake, invertebrate fisheries are rapidly expanding with little scientific scrutiny despite increasing socio-economic importance. This thesis provides the first global analysis of the trends, drivers, and population and ecosystem consequences of invertebrate fisheries, in general, and sea cucumber fisheries, in particular, based on a global catch database in combination with taxa-specific reviews. Further, I developed new methods to quantify trends over space and time in resource status and fishery development. Since 1950, global invertebrate catches increased six-fold with 1.5 times more countries fishing and double the taxa reported. By 2004, 31% of fisheries were over-exploited, collapsed, or closed. New fisheries developed increasingly rapidly, with a decrease of six years (± three years) in time from start to peak from 1960 to 1990. Moreover, 71% of invertebrate taxa (53% of catches) are harvested with habitat-destructive gear, and many provide important ecosystem functions including habitat, filtration, and grazing. For sea cucumber fisheries, global catch and value has increased strongly over the past two to three decades, closely linked to increasing prices and demand on Asian markets. However, the catch of individual fisheries followed a boom-and-bust pattern, declining nearly as quickly as it expanded, and expanding approximately five times as quickly in 1990 compared to 1960. Also, new fisheries expanded increasingly far from their driving market in Asia, and encompassed a global fishery by the 1990s. One-third of sea cucumber fisheries experienced declines in average body size fished; half showed serial exploitation over space by moving further away from the coast; three-quarters showed serial exploitation from high- to low-value species; and two-thirds experienced population declines due to overexploitation with local extirpation in some cases. One-third of all sea cucumber fisheries remain unregulated. These findings suggest that the basis of marine food webs is increasingly exploited with limited stock and ecosystem-impact assessments, and a new management focus is needed to avoid negative consequences for ocean ecosystems and human well-being.