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The mission of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science is to advance ocean conservation through science. More..

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Publications 2005

Authors in bold are/were staff of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science and its founding organization, the Pew Institute for Ocean Science


Abercrombie D L, S C Clarke, M S Shivji. 2005. Global-scale genetic identification of hammerhead sharks: Application to assessment of the international fin trade and law enforcement. Conservation Genetics. 6:775-788.

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Apostolaki P, E Cortes, E A Babcock, E Brooks, L Beerkircher. 2005. Use of an age-structured model for the stock assessment of blue shark in the North Atlantic. Collective Volume of Scientific Papers ICCAT. 58(3):1001-1018.

Apostolaki P, E Cortes, E A Babcock, E Brooks, L Beerkircher. 2005. Use of an age-structured model for the stock assessment of blue shark in the North Atlantic. Collective Volume of Scientific Papers ICCAT. 58(3):1001-1018.

Babcock E A, E K Pikitch, M K McAllister, P Apostolaki, C Santora. 2005. A perspective on the use of spatialized indicators for ecosystem-based fishery management through spatial zoning. ICES Journal of Marine Science for the proceedings of the meeting ICES Journal of Marine Science. 62: 469-476.

While much work has been done developing system level indicators for ecosystem-based fishery management (EBFM), such as size spectra and mean trophic levels, few of these proposed indicators include a spatial component. Even in single species management, time and area closures have been applied without a clear understanding of what the effect of these closures might be on the identification of overfishing thresholds and other reference points. For EBFM, the spatial zoning of the marine environment, including no-take marine reserves and areas where destructive fishing gears are prohibited, is likely to be one of the primary management tools. Thus, EBFM will require indicators of the effectiveness of spatial management, as well as an understanding of how indicators related to other management objectives, such as fisheries yield, will be influenced by spatial management. We review the single-species models that have been used to model spatial zoning, including current work on fishing effort reallocation after an area closure, and discuss how spatial management might bias assessment. We review the available ecosystem-based models and metrics, and how they might account for spatial management. We also discuss metrics that could be derived from explicitly spatial approaches such as GIS-based ecosystem and fishery evaluations.

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Babcock E A, E Cortes. 2005. Surplus production model applied to the data for blue and mako sharks available at the 2001 ICCAT Bycatch Working Group and other published data. Collective Volume of Scientific Papers ICCAT . 58(3):1044-1053.

Bakun A. 2005. Seeking an expanded suite of management tools: implications of rapidly-evolving adaptive response mechanisms (e.g., "school-mix feedback"). Bulletin of Marine Science. 76: 463-483.

Bakun A. 2005. Regime Shifts, in The Sea, Vol.13. Pages Ch.25, pp.971-1026. Ed. by Robinson A R and Brink K. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Birstein V J, G Ruban, A Ludwig, P Doukakis, R DeSalle. 2005. The enigmatic Caspian Sea Russian sturgeon: How many cryptic forms does it contain?. Systematics and Biodiversity. 3(2): 203-218.

Chapman D D, E K Pikitch, E A Babcock, M S Shivji. 2005. Marine Reserve Design and Evaluation Using Automated Acoustic Telemetry:A Case Study Involving Coral Reef-associated Sharks in the Mesoamerican Caribbean. Marine Technology Society Journal. Vol 39: 42-55.

A non-overlapping acoustic receiver array was used to track the movements of two common shark species, nurse Ginglymostoma cirratum (n=25) and Caribbean reef Carcharhinus perezi (n=5), in and around Glover's Reef Marine Reserve (GRMR), off the coast of Belize, between May and October, 2004. Although both species exhibited partial site fidelity in that they were most likely to be detected near the area of original capture, both species also moved widely through out the 10 by 30 km atoll. One Caribbean reef shark was detected by a monitor at Lighthouse Reef, 30km from Glover’s Reef across deep (>400m) open water. The mean minimum linear dispersal (MLD) was 10,5kn for Caribbean reef sharks and 7.7 km for nurse sharks, with many individuals traveling more than the 10 km width of the no-take “conservation zone” of the marine reserve. Although most sharks were tagged within the conservation zone, individuals were detected outside this part of GRMR on average 48 days out of the 150 days of observations. However, of 7 nurse sharks tagged near the center of the conservation zone, 4 were never detected outside of this part of the reserve. In general, this study suggests that effective conservation of these large roving predators requires an ecosystem-based management approach including a zoned management plan, similar to that used at GRMR, in which a fairly large no-take reserve, incorporating diverse habitats and the connections between them, is surrounded by a larger area in which fishing is regulated.

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Doukakis P, V J Birstein, R DeSalle. 2005. Intraspecific structure within three caviar-producing sturgeons (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii, A. stellatus, and Huso huso) based on mitochondrial DNA analysis. Journal of Applied Ichthyology. 21(6): 457-460.

Goldstein P, W Wyner, P Doukakis, MG Egan, G Amato, H Rosenbaum, R DeSalle. 2005. Theory and methods for diagnosing species and populations in conservation. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Gardens. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Vol. 92, No. 1, pp.

Hammerschlag N, Fallows C. 2005. Galapagos sharks (Carcharhinus galapagensis) at the Bassas da India atoll: first record from the Mozambique Channel and possible significance as a nursery area. South African Journal of Science. 101: 375-377.

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Hammerschlag, N. 2005. Making Faces at a Tiger. Shark diver Magazine. Issue 9: 42-43.

Martin R A, N Hammerschlag, R S Collier, C Fallows. 2005. Predatory behaviour of white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) at Seal Island, South Africa. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. 85, 1121-1135.

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Myers R A, B Worm. 2005. Extinction, survival, or recovery of large predatory fishes. Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Biology Department, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4J1, Canada.

Large predatory fishes have long played an important role in marine ecosystems and fisheries. Overexploitation, however, is gradually diminishing this role. Recent estimates indicate that exploitation has depleted large predatory fish communities worldwide by at least 90% over the past 50-100 years. We demonstrate that these declines are general, independent of methodology, and even higher for sensitive species such as sharks. We also attempt to predict the future prospects of large predatory fishes.

(i) An analysis of maximum reproductive rates predicts the collapse and extinction of sensitive species under current levels of fishing mortality. Sensitive species occur in marine habitats worldwide and have to be considered in most management situations.

(ii) We show that to ensure the survival of sensitive species in the northwest Atlantic fishing mortality has to be reduced by 40-80%.

(iii) We show that rapid recovery of community biomass and diversity usually occurs when fishing mortality is reduced. However, recovery is more variable for single species, often because of the influence of species interactions.

We conclude that management of multi-species fisheries needs to be tailored to the most sensitive, rather than the more robust species. This requires reductions in fishing effort, reduction in bycatch mortality and protection of key areas to initiate recovery of severely depleted communities.

Pauly D, Alder J (Coordinating Lead Authors), Bakun A, Heileman S, Kock K H, Mace P, Perrin W, Stergiou K, Sumaila U R, Verrios M, Freire K, Sadovy Y ("Lead Authors"), Christensen V, Kaschner K, Palomares M L, Tyedmers P, Wabnitz C, Watson R, Worm B ("Contributing Lead Authors"). 2005. Chapter 18: Marine Fisheries Systems, in Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Current State and Trends. Pages pp. 477-511. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

Pikitch E K, C Santora, E A Babcock. 2005. New frameworks for reconciling conservation with fisheries: incorporating uncertainty and ecosystem processes into fisheries management. Submitted for the proceedings of the World Fisheries Congress. In Press.

Fisheries management has been greatly improved by the development of decision tools that account for uncertainties including multiple hypotheses about the state of nature, and random natural processes. Decision analytic methods, including Bayesian decision analysis, as well as adaptive management and the simulation testing of management strategies, now allow fisheries scientists to provide managers with advice about the potential consequences of management actions. The decision rules that have developed under the precautionary approach are designed to be robust to uncertainty and are imbedded within a management framework that is explicitly designed to achieve management objectives such as sustaining fisheries yield. These decision support techniques, and the management framework that uses these tools, can be very effective, and should be applied more widely. On the other hand, these methods have generally been applied in the context of single-species management; it is necessary to develop management frameworks and decision tools that can be used to develop management strategies that are robust to uncertainties at the level of ecosystems as well. The framework of fishery management must be broadened to include environmental effects, food-web interactions and the impacts of fishing on ecosystems. The scientific and legal basis for ecosystem-based fishery management (EBFM) has now evolved to the point where EBFM can be a viable management framework.

Pikitch E K, P Doukakis, L Lauck, P Chakrabarty, D L Erickson. 2005. Status, trends and management of sturgeon and paddlefish. Fish and Fisheries. Vol 6, Pages 233-265.

The 27 extant species of sturgeons and paddlefishes (Order Acipenseriformes) represent a unique and relict lineage of fishes. Producers of coveted black caviar, sturgeons are one of the most valuable wildlife commodities on earth. The group is among the most endangered fishes with all species listed under Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix I (two species) or II (25 species), only two species considered Lower Risk by IUCN, four of the nine US taxa and one Caspian species protected under the Endangered Species Act, and local extinctions recorded for 19 of 27 species. Despite their well-publicized imperilled status, commercial pressure on 15 species persists. Here, after reviewing the biological characteristics of sturgeons and paddlefishes and their commercial use, an overview of global fisheries is presented. The synopsis demonstrates that, with few exceptions, sturgeon and paddlefish are imperilled across the globe and long-term survival in the wild is in jeopardy. All major sturgeon fisheries have surpassed peak productivity levels, with 70% of major fisheries posting recent harvests <15% of historic peak catches and 35% of the fisheries examined crashing within 7-20 years of inception. Even in Caspian Sea fisheries, the most important globally, present catches are below 10% of historic peak landings. Improved domestic and international fisheries management and attention to habitat and species restoration is now needed. Although captive rearing offers promise for caviar alternatives and endangered species restoration, it must advance cautiously to avoid environmental harm. To ensure a continued supply of caviar and the survival of these unique fishes we offer recommendations for priority conservation action for the future.

PDF of Paper in Fish and Fisheries

Special press release on paper including graphics and images

Pikitch E K, D D Chapman, E A Babcock, M S Shivji. 2005. Habitat use and demographic population structure of elasmobranchs at a Caribbean atoll (Glover's Reef, Belize). Marine Ecology Progress Series. Vol. 302: 187-197.

A 5 yr spring and summer survey (July 2000 to May 2004) of the elasmobranch fauna of Glover's Reef Marine Reserve, Belize, documents the use of this oceanic atoll by at least 12 elasmobranch species, including early life-stages of nurse sharks Ginglymostoma cirratum, Caribbean reef sharks Carcharhinus perezi, lemon sharks Negaprion brevirostris, and southern stingrays Dasyatis americana. Elasmobranch abundance was sampled in 3 atoll macrohabitats (deep lagoon, ocean reef, shallow lagoon) using standardized longlines. Total elasmobranch abundance did not change from year to year, but was significantly higher inside the lagoon than on the ocean reef outside the atoll. G. cirratum dominated both shallow and deep lagoon catches, with smaller individuals more prevalent in the shallow lagoon. C. perezi of all size classes dominated the ocean reef catches, but small juveniles of this species were also common in the deep lagoon. This species rarely utilized the shallow lagoon. A wide range of sizes of C. perezi and G. cirratum occupy Glover's Reef in spring and summer, with males maturing at 150 to 170 cm and 185 to 200 cm total length, respectively. The sex ratios of these species did not deviate from unity. A large juvenile Gala¡pagos shark, C. galapagensis, was collected on the ocean reef, extending the range of this species into the Western Caribbean. Opportunistic surveys of fish markets on the Belize mainland revealed that inshore areas are utilized by early life-stages of sharks from the families Carcharhinidae (C. limbatus, N. brevirostris, Rhizoprionodon porosus) and Sphyrnidae (Sphyrna tiburo, S. lewini, S. mokarran).

Click to read the paper online at MEPS

Pikitch E K. 2005. The gathering wave of ocean extinctions, in State of the Wild 2006: A Global Portrait of Wildlife, Wildlands, and Oceans. Pages Pp. 195-201. Ed. by S Gynup. Island Press, Washington, D.C.. 326 pp pages

Shepard T D, R A Myers. 2005. Direct and indirect fishery effects on small coastal elasmobranchs in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Ecology Letters. 8: 1095-1104.

Shivji M S, D D Chapman, E K Pikitch, P W Raymond. 2005. Genetic profiling reveals illegal international trade in fins of the great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias. Conservation Genetics. 6:1035-1039.

Skomal G, E A Babcock, E K Pikitch. 2005. Indices of blue and mako shark abundance derived from U.S. Atlantic recreational fishery data. Collective Volume of Scientific Papers ICCAT. 58(3): 1034-1043.

UN Millennium Project. 2005. Environment and Human Well-being: A Practical Strategy. Report of the Task Force on Environmental Sustainability. The Earth Institute at Columbia University, New York, USA

PDFs of task force 6 report

Ward P, R A Myers. 2005. Shifts in open-ocean fish communities coinciding with the commencement of commercial fishing. Ecology. In Press.

Department of Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax B3H 4J1, CANADA

We identify changes in the pelagic fish community of the tropical Pacific Ocean by comparing recent data collected by observers on longline fishing vessels with data from a 1950s scientific survey when industrial fishing commenced. A major shift in size composition and indices of species abundance and community biomass accompanied the start of fishing. The largest and most abundant predators, such as sharks and large tunas, suffered the greatest declines in abundance (21% on average). They also showed striking reductions in mean body mass. For example, the mean mass of blue shark (Prionace glauca) was 52 kg in the 1950s compared to 22 kg in the 1990s. The estimated abundance of this species was 13.4% of that in the 1950s. Overall, the biomass of large predators fell by a factor of ten between the periods. By contrast, several small and formerly rare species increased in abundance, e.g., pelagic stingray (Dasyatis violacea). However, the increases in small species did not balance the reductions in the biomass of large predators. Of three possible explanations for these patterns—fishing, environmental variation, and sampling bias—available evidence indicates fishing to be the most likely cause.

Ward P, R A Myers. 2005. A method for inferring the depth distribution of catchability for pelagic fishes and correcting for variations in the depth of longline fishing gear. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 62: 1130-1142.


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