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Fish and Food Security: Potential for Global Fishery Collapse
Abstract: This research provides a systematic basis for thinking about a global, as opposed to individual, fishery collapse through both empirical and theoretical review of the evidence for and against thinking about fisheries as a global complex system. One central question is whether or not global fisheries can be described as a panarchy, or a hierarchy of complex systems. The literature reviewed indicate that we can conceptualize fisheries this way, and therefore the world fisheries theoretically can be expected to work through the four cycles, including collapse, and the direction of world fish catch are in decline. Such decline implies that the population curve of global fisheries may be in nearing a tipping point. The stakes are obviously high because fish provide a very important source of food, but wild fishery catch is not expected to keep up with demand threatening the world's poor food security (Godfray et al., 2010, Kent, 1997, Pauly et al., 2005). One analysis in ICES Journal of Marine Science, explains that the production of fish must increase by 50% to meet expected demands for food (Pauly and Palomares, 2005), though affluent countries have been able to and will continue to be able to (to lesser and lesser degrees) substitute lost local fisheries for imports(Pauly et al., 2005, Jacques, 2006). Of course, fish are also a vital source of revenue and jobs in direct landings that value between $80-$85 billion annually (Willman et al., 2008); and, economic impact beyond just landings including indirect and induced economic impact, world fisheries produce $225 to $240 billion annually (Dyck and Sumaila, 2010)-- even though over half of the landed value is lost due to mismanagement(Arnason, 2011). Finally, fish and fishing play a crucial role in human meaning and culture and have done so since the very old coastal cultures (Jacques, 2009). The notions here are explicitly inter-disciplinary and are carried out under the auspices of "social oceanography"—or the study of integrated social-marine systems(Jacques, 2010). This interdisciplinarity is essential for the question at hand because the direction of the world's fisheries are deeply tied to the biophysical conditions of the ocean and fish, and the behavior and context of human activity—and not just fishing.
Keywords: Fish, Fishery Management, Fishery Collapse, Food Security