Marine animal populations have been cut in half since the 1970s. This can be attributed to overharvesting, incidental mortality to nontarget species, and habitat degradation in fisheries. Combined with other environmental threats, such as climate change, this has led to reduced ocean health and destabilized marine ecosystems.
The Anderson Cabot Center works to reduce unintended mortality of marine mammals and fishes, as well as damage to ecosystems caused by fishing practices. We also conduct research to better understand the fisheries biology of species with ecological, conservation, and/or economic importance, while deciphering how human impacts to those species can be managed and reduced.
We partner closely with the fishing industry to investigate and develop practical changes in fishing practices that are less harmful to various species and ecosystems, while maintaining viable fisheries. We also collaborate with fishery managers and policymakers, NGOs, corporate partners, and certification bodies from around the world to drive the implementation of fishery improvement practices.
Our scientists have been working for decades to improve fisheries practices by:
- Introducing acoustic deterrents (i.e. “pingers” to reduce the bycatch of marine mammals in fisheries across the world, including the U.S. East and West coasts, Europe, and Argentina)
- Generating best catch-and-release practices to increase the survival of cod and haddock thrown back to the ocean in Gulf of Maine recreational fisheries
- Generating critical skate fisheries mortality data, which helped drive a more sustainable fishery
We will amplify our efforts to improve ocean health and sustainable fisheries by:
- Reversing the decline of the right whale population by reducing large whale entanglements by 25%
- Increasing the protection of at-risk Gulf of Maine species, such as cod, certain sharks, and skates, by providing key data to inform fishery management and policy measures
- Achieving a tipping point toward widespread adoption of whale-release rope technology for inshore lobster pot gear, increasing its use from less than 1% currently to 50% along the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. and Canada
We are building on our successes and fulfilling this priority through several programs.
Fisheries and Aquaculture Solutions
At the core of the complex field of seafood sustainability is a simple problem: poor resource management damages fish stocks, ecosystems, and global ocean health. The Fisheries and Aquaculture Solutions Program works to solve these problems by providing readily-implementable, science-based solutions to companies that buy and sell seafood, the public, and the organizations we collaborate with.
Fisheries Science and Emerging Technologies
To effectively manage and conserve the ocean’s resources, decision makers need sound scientific data. Anderson Cabot Center scientists use cutting-edge technology to investigate critical fisheries issues, providing resource managers with the information they need to improve species, fisheries, and ecosystem management.
In addition to our original research evaluating innovative bycatch-reduction techniques and studying wildlife-fisheries interactions, our Global Bycatch Exchange Program also provides resources to help identify and implement bycatch-reduction techniques as well as connects stakeholders in the seafood industry to advance bycatch-reduction projects worldwide.