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Tuna and billfish are making a comeback

by Daria Blackwell 18 Nov 07:16 UTC
Tuna and billfish are making a comeback © Daria Blackwell

After almost three decades of decline, tuna and billfish have begun to recover because of proactive fisheries management. Sharks, however, continue to decline.

Recent assessments of biodiversity on land show unprecedented loss of species, ecosystems, and genetic diversity, but it remains unclear how biodiversity in the oceans is being affected. One group of scientists measured extinction risk for oceanic tunas, billfish, and sharks over the past 70 years using the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List criteria. They tracked yearly changes to assess the health of oceanic biodiversity.

What they found is that after almost three decades of decline, tuna and billfish -- which were overfished, have begun to recover because of proactive fisheries management approaches. Sharks, however, which have received much less conservation attention and tend to be lost as bycatch rather than overfishing, have continued to decline.

While populations of highly valuable commercial species are being rebuilt, the next management challenge is to halt and reverse the harm caused by these same fisheries to broad oceanic biodiversity. These results reinforce the value of conservation and management as well as emphasize the need for immediate implementation of similar approaches for sharks and other vulnerable species.

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This article has been provided by the courtesy of Ocean Cruising Club.

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