Pressure from large-scale commercial fishing, and intense recreational and sport fishing, is accelerating evolution in some fish populations and threatening the sustainability of fisheries. IIASA research on exploitation-induced evolution has assembled evidence that human exploitation not only changes the abundance of targeted fish populations over time, but also alters their heritable traits. Exploited fish populations worldwide are tending to start reproducing at an earlier age and smaller size. In some populations this reduces fish biomass; in others it increases resilience to fishing. In either case, fisheriesinduced evolution changes a stock’s productivitiy, stability to collapse, and recovery potential.
IIASA and an international network of collaborating experts are analyzing the major causes of fisheries-induced evolution, including its ecological and socioeconomic consequences. The work, which includes development of models for strategic and tactical evaluations of
exploited fish stocks, is coordinated through the Working Group on Fisheries-Induced Evolution (WGEVO) of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), co-chaired by IIASA scientists. Work covers the Barents Sea adjacent to Norway and Russia, the North Sea and Baltic Sea, an Austrian mountain lake, the coastal seas of China, waters off Iceland,
Newfoundland, and New England, and rivers in Alaska and Québec.
In recent years, IIASA research has been broadened through the European Marie Curie Research Training Networks ModLife (Modern Life History and Its Application to the Management of Natural Resources) and FishACE (Fisheries-induced Adaptive Change in Exploited Stocks) and the European Union-funded Specific Targeted Research Project FinE (Fisheries-induced Evolution).
Last edited: 13 November 2020
Analyzing Fisheries-induced Evolution (PDF)
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