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Free Content Sustainable Exploitation of Small Pelagic Fish Stocks Challenged by Environmental and Ecosystem Changes: A Review

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Small pelagic fish contribute up to 50% of the total landing of marine species. They are most abundant in upwelling areas and contribute to food security. Exploited stocks of these species are prone to large interannual and interdecadal variation of abundance as well as to collapse. We discuss why small pelagic fish and fisheries are so "special" with regard to their biology, ecology, and behavior. Two adjectives can sum up the characteristics of pelagic species: variability and instability. Analyses of the relationships between small pelagic fish and their physical environment at different time-scales illustrate the complexity of the interplay between exploitation and environmental impacts. How small pelagic fish species are positioned and related within the trophic web suggests that these species play a central role in the functioning and dynamics of upwelling ecosystems. Finally, we discuss the sustainable exploitation of small pelagic fisheries through appropriate management, focusing on the resilience to exploitation, a comparison of different management options and regulatory mechanisms. We recommend that statistical, socio-economical, and political merits of a proposed two-level (short- and long-term) management strategy be undertaken.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2005

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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