> Oceanography > Issues > Archive > Volume 23, Number 1

2010, Oceanography 23(1):134–144, http://dx.doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2010.66

Seamount Fisheries: Do They Have a Future?

Authors | Abstract | Full Article | Citation


Tony J. Pitcher | Fisheries Centre, Aquatic Ecosystems Research Laboratory, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Malcolm R. Clark | National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research, Wellington, New Zealand

Telmo Morato | Department of Oceanography and Fisheries, University of the Azores, Horta, Faial, Portugal, and is also with the Oceanic Fisheries Program, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Noumea, New Caledonia

Reg Watson | Sea Around Us Project, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (project headquarters is located at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)



Today, seamount fish populations are in trouble following a 30-year history of overexploitation, depletion, and collapse, with untold consequences for global biodiversity and the complex, delicate, but poorly understood, open-ocean food webs. Seamount fishes are especially vulnerable to fishing because their "boom-and-bust" life history characteristics can be exploited by heavy, high-technology fisheries. We estimate present global seamount catches to be about 3 million tonnes per annum and increasing—vastly in excess of estimated sustainable levels. Unfortunately, most seamount fisheries are unmanaged. In a few developed countries, precautionary management regimes have recently been introduced, including protection from bottom trawling. Small-scale artisanal fisheries using less-harmful fishing gear, spatial closures, and low catch levels provide an attractive model for improved seamount fishery management that could foster the reconstruction of previously damaged seamount ecosystems. Such restored systems might one day support a substantial global sustainable fishery, although, like many other fisheries, the prognosis is poor.


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Pitcher, T.J., M.R. Clark, T. Morato, and R. Watson. 2010. Seamount fisheries: Do they have a future? Oceanography 23(1):134–144, http://dx.doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2010.66.