A study by researchers from the U.S., U.K., Australia, France, Norway, Ecuador, and Sudan finds MPAs key to marine species recovery

Published Apr 4, 2024

Tridge summary

A significant study published in Science, involving international researchers, has revealed that pelagic fish in the open oceans are smaller near human populations compared to their benthic counterparts. This discovery, made through the analysis of over 800,000 fish using baited cameras across 17,000 underwater stations over 14 years, underscores the greater impact of human activities on pelagic species. The research advocates for the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs) in remote oceanic regions as a vital measure to support the '30x30' conservation initiative, aiming to protect 30% of the planet's lands and oceans by 2030. Establishing MPAs is crucial for the recuperation of pelagic fish populations, promising benefits for both the marine ecosystem and fishing communities through healthier, more productive fish populations.
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Original content

After analyzing the size of over 800,000 individual fish around the world and realizing many have sustained stunted growth, researchers have recommended creating marine protected areas (MPAs) in patches of remote open ocean to ensure goals outlined by the “30x30” initiative come to fruition.A study published in the journal Science in February, "Divergent responses of pelagic and benthic fish body-size structure to remoteness and protection from humans," compiled by researchers from the U.S., U.K., Australia, France, Norway, Ecuador, and Sudan, analyzed the abundance and size of sea creatures – from zooplankton to large predators – in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans, and found that pelagic, or open ocean, species were profoundly smaller near human communities compared to benthic, seabed-dwelling fish. This highlights the heightened vulnerability of pelagic species to human impacts, according to the study.“Many pelagic sharks and fish populations are at historically low ...
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