Primary production required to sustain global fisheries

Abstract

THE mean of reported annual world fisheries catches for 1988-1991 (94.3 million t) was split into 39 species groups, to which fractional trophic levels, ranging from 1.0 (edible algae) to 4.2 (tunas), were assigned, based on 48 published trophic models, providing a global coverage of six major aquatic ecosystem types. The primary production required to sustain each group of species was then computed based on a mean energy transfer efficiency between trophic levels of 10%, a value that was reestimated rather than assumed. The primary production required to sustain the reported catches, plus 27 million t of discarded bycatch, amounted to 8.0% of global aquatic primary production, nearly four times the previous estimate. By ecosystem type, the requirements were only 2% for open ocean systems, but ranged from 24 to 35% in fresh water, upwelling and shelf systems, justifying current concerns for sustainability and biodiversity.

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