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Is the ocean food provision index biased?


arising from B. S. Halpern et al. Nature 488, 615–620 (2012)10.1038/nature11397

How close to maximum sustainable food provision is current seafood harvest from the world’s oceans? Halpern et al.1 suggest that the answer is 25% from a global index of food provision, part of their multifaceted index of ocean health. Rigorous methods used for management, however, demonstrate that their food provision index is uncorrelated with actual food provision, and that global ocean food provision is in the range of 71–95%. Their results stem from an uncertain method of estimating maximum sustainable yield (MSY), and we believe that this approach should be avoided as a measure of food provision. There is a Reply to this Brief Communication Arising by Halpern, B. S. et al. Nature 495, (2013).

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Figure 1: Contours of the Halpern et al.1 food provision index (0–100%) in relation to current catch and maximum catch ( Cmax).
Figure 2: Food provision indices (percentages) estimated using the Halpern et al.1 proxy, compared to food provision based on biomass data for 234 fisheries comprising 20–25% of global catch (circles, see Methods for details).


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T.A.B. designed the study, T.A.B. and D.J.H. analysed the data, and T.A.B. and R.H. discussed the results and wrote the paper together.

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Correspondence to Trevor A. Branch.

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Branch, T., Hively, D. & Hilborn, R. Is the ocean food provision index biased?. Nature 495, E5–E6 (2013).

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