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Fishing down marine food webs

A new website (, hosted by the Sea Around Us Project, has been launched. This website helps clear up misconceptions about the concept of “fishing down” in marine ecosystems – whereby fisheries have a tendency to deplete longer lived, high-trophic level species first, causing a decline in the mean trophic level of catches from an ecosystem.

Since it was first published, the fishing down concept has been documented and adopted by a broad community of marine and freshwater scientists around the world. Thus, the website also aggregates many case studies illustrating the phenomenon in marine ecosystems all over world, from Argentina to the North Sea, from Greece to the Caribbean. In 2010, the fishing down concept was challenged in a publication in the journal Nature. The objections that were raised are based mainly on imputations and misunderstandings, and the Fishing Down website is dedicated to clearing up the misunderstandings behind much of the controversy. One apparent problem is that fishing down can be masked by extraneous factors, such as the taxonomic over-aggregation of catch statistics. The website is intended as a response to the voiced concerns and provides scientific references about the fishing down phenomenon, including a link to the original article, led by biologist Daniel Pauly and published in the journal Science in 1998, titled “Fishing down marine food webs.”

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