Ecology and the science of small-scale fisheries: A synthetic review of research effort for the Anthropocene
Human-driven changes to aquatic environments threaten small-scale fisheries (SSFs). Ensuring a livable future for SSFs in the Anthropocene requires incorporating ecological knowledge of these diverse multi-species systems beyond the long-standing reliance on populations, a management paradigm adopted from industrial fisheries. Assessing the state of ecological knowledge on SSFs is timely as we enter the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science and Sustainable Development and with the upcoming International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture. Synthesizing research effort can help identify existing knowledge gaps and relatively well-researched ‘bright spots’ that can inform strategies to achieve global sustainability commitments. Yet trends in ecological research of SSFs are not well understood compared to better-studied industrial fisheries. To address this void, we conducted a synthetic review of SSF publications in ecology journals (n = 302), synthesizing trends in research subjects and methodologies over time. Wide geographic and habitat disparities in the coverage of publications are identified, with marine fisheries in Latin American receiving the greatest coverage while inland and Asian fisheries are understudied relative to the global distribution of SSFs. Bony fish and invertebrates received substantial coverage compared to endangered cartilaginous fishes. Studies have increasingly focused on human dimensions and ecosystem ecology compared to earlier emphasis on population ecology. Methodologically, studies rarely incorporate experiments despite their efficacy in testing interventions. To achieve a ‘wider view’ of fisheries that is reflective of the needs of SSFs in the Anthropocene, future ecological studies should expand their geographic, taxonomic, and methodological breadth to better assess understudied SSF interactions.
Smith, H; Garcia Lozano, A; Baker, D; Blondin, H; Hamilton, J; Choi, J; Basurto, X; Silliman, B
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