Scientists gather for conference on resource sustainability
St. Johns Telegram, 27 Nov 2001

MIAMI - Opening the first conference of its kind, fishery scientists looked for greater consensus Monday on how to balance the demand for food from the sea with the need to allow fish stocks to replenish themselves.

Dozens of leading scientists from across the globe gathered for a weeklong conference on the sustainability of fisheries at the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

The meetings will address the science, management and technology needed for sustainable fisheries -- the maximum level at which an ecosystem can be fished while leaving enough fish to breed and maintain stocks.

Presenters described an alarming decline in annual fish stocks caused by overfishing, coupled with an increasing demand for fish on dinner plates across the globe.

``We are faced now globally with a requirement to meet demands now and at the same time we're supposed to leave a legacy for the future,'' said Dr. Daniel Pauly, a fisheries biologist with the University of British Columbia. ``It can't be done. You can't confront all of these conflicting demands.''

In the first meetings of its kind, the conference is bringing together scientists from across the world to share information and data to try to improve fisheries management.

Conference panels will discuss the sustainability of species such as hake, tuna, lobster, cod, billfish, shrimp and reef fish. Participants plan to develop a report containing case studies, conclusions and recommendations to be published next year.

``We're addressing the issues about what are you going to do about the oceans, why are the fish disappearing and what are we doing about it,'' said Dick Voell, a former chairman of the business council of the United Nations and the Center for Sustainable Fisheries' board of advisors chairman.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that if further decline is to be prevented, more than 60 per cent of stocks require urgent intervention to control or reduce fishing.

The UN organization said 70 per cent of marine fisheries are fully used, overfished or depleted. Thirteen of the planet's 15 major oceanic fishing areas are now fished at or beyond capacity.

The university's Center for Sustainable Fisheries said the demand for fish is expected to rise by 40 per cent this decade, generated by interest in healthy food and a growing world population. Worldwide more than 200 million jobs depend on fish, the school reports.