How Baby Fish Connects The World's Fisheries

According to a new study published in Science, many fisheries depend on other nations’ spawning grounds to help fill their needs for fish stocks. This is despite numerous marine fisheries from all over the world are being managed by individual nations.

What Does This Mean in a Grand Scale?

This means that the numerous economies and nations from all around the world that depend on fishing as an economic driver must rely on other countries to guarantee that there will be spawning grounds providing enough supply for everyone. Translation: There needs to be international cooperation in order to fully sustain the fishing needs of people globally, be it for food or livelihood.

What’s the Driver Behind All of This?

To put it simply, baby fish. More specifically, baby fish riding ocean currents around our planet. Oceanographer Nandini Ramesh of the University of California, Berkeley and colleagues were able to determine this by making a computer program that simulated how ocean currents transport both the eggs and larvae of more or less 700 species of commercially harvested fish. It also accounted for where and when different species lay eggs among 249 national fishing grounds, as well as yearly ocean current speed and direction.

From this, Ramesh was able to determine that there’s a large network of larval flow that “connects” fisheries around the world. For example, there are 114 national territories that take 1,000 tons of their catch each year from another country or nation. Major spawning territories include Barbados, Kiribati and Brazil. As such, harm to these spawning grounds via overfishing or environmental changes brought about by climate change can significantly affect the global fishery network. Thankfully, the simulation also showed that fish population can be boosted by good management of fisheries on the nations’ part. Still, one nation can’t change everything, and international cooperation is still a must.

At present, the computer simulation does not include other factors that can affect the global network. This includes the movement of different species of adult fish. Nevertheless, James Watson, a marine scientist at Oregon State University in Corvallis said that this general sense of “connectedness of our coasts, with regards to fisheries, is super ambitious.”

Fishing A family fishing together in the lake. Pexels/Pixabay