Report of the Study Group on Fisheries Induced Adaptive Change (SGFIAC)
There is a growing body of scientific evidence indicating that fisheries can cause evolutionary responses over time periods as short as 10–20 years, in particular in traits such as the onset of maturation. As these changes will most likely result in a reduction of the productivity of a fish stock, management objectives and (precautionary) reference points for sustainable exploitation need to be re-defined, and new objectives and reference points for managing fisheries-induced evolution need to be developed. Current knowledge allows for two generalisations. First, reducing harvest rates will almost always slow the rate and extent of fisheries-induced evolution in most life-history traits. Second, raising a stock’s minimum size limit for exploitation well above the size range over which maturation occurs will slow down the rate of evolution in its maturation schedule. To go beyond these generic insights, ‘Evolutionary Impact Assessments’ (EvoIAs) are proposed to quantify the effects of management measures, through the evolutionary response of specific stocks, on the utility functions defined by managers. The Study Group on Fisheries Induced Adaptive Change [SGFIAC] proposes to further develop this framework in dialogue with fisheries scientists and managers, with the aim of integrating the effects of fisheries-induced evolution into fisheries management advice. Developing EvoIAs in the context of suitable case studies is considered to be the most efficient way for making progress.
Published under the auspices of the following ICES Steering Group or Committee