Fishing provides selective pressure on many fisheries life-history traits, and interest in the impact of size-selective fishing on the evolution of growth rates is long standing. Recent studies, both laboratory and empirical, suggest that such size-selective fishing is significant.
Using a metaanalysis of 73 commercially fished stocks, we found that declines in mass at age are slightly more common than increases, but no relationship was apparent between the intensity of fishing and the change in growth rate. We reviewed a number of size-selectivity patterns in major
commercial fisheries and found that the intensity of selection and the size selectivity were both considerably less than are used in laboratory experiments. We simulated the evolutionary impact of fishing on growth and found that, given the actual selectivity patterns found in most commercial
fisheries, little evolutionary impact on growth rates is expected. The model showed that the best way to reduce evolutionary impacts is to lower exploitation rates. We suggest that, for fisheries where size-specific selection is very intense, managers should use a model such as ours to evaluate
potential evolutionary impacts.
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