March 17, 2009

New technologies aiding fishery managers

Recent technological advances are providing U.S. fishery managers with more information about biological and behavioral changes in fish.

The advanced tracking and observing technologies are giving marine conservationists more information on conditions ranging from overfishing to climate change -- two conditions that are contributing to declining fish populations.

Cornell University Professor Charles Green says until recently, scientists provided fishery managers with only limited data, such as stock counts and catch estimates. But advances in miniature sensors and fish-tracking tags, ocean observing systems and computer models are providing much more insight into environmental changes and how fish are responding to such changes, thereby enabling better modeling to predict fish populations, Green said. As a result, researchers are making more informed recommendations for strategies to address falling fish populations.

Green says obtaining real-world data is essential, Many of the commercial fish populations in the world are pretty highly depressed, he said. It's a bleak picture in terms of the status of many wild marine fish populations.

Green is the lead author of the study that appears in the journal Oceanography.