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On the Need to Study Fishing Power Change: Challenges and Perspectives

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Perspectives on Oceans Past

Abstract

Fishing power, which expresses the efficiency by which vessels have the potential to catch fish, has changed dramatically over the past decades to centuries. In historical ecology, two important reasons for studying fishing power change include: (1) understanding change in the capacity (or overcapacity) of fishing fleets and their potential to exploit (or overexploit) fish stocks; and (2) interpreting catch-per-unit effort data over longer time-scales, especially if these are to be used as abundance proxies for marine populations. This chapter defines fishing power; summarises earlier work on the dynamics of North Sea trawling fleets; reviews available methods for analysing fishing power change; and discusses some of the limitations and assumptions when analysing fishing power data. More research on fishing power dynamics is encouraged: this is expected to improve our understanding of the historical, environmental footprint of fisheries, as well as the long-term dynamics of our marine living resources and the fishing fleets that depend on these.

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Acknowledgements

Writing of this chapter was supported by the UK Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra project MF1228 ‘Physics to Fisheries’) and Cefas (Seedcorn project ‘Trawling Through Time’) and further inspired by the ICES Working Group on the History of Fish and Fisheries (WGHIST), especially Sidney Holt, Massimiliano Cardinale, Chato Oso, John Pinnegar, Bo Poulsen, and Ann-Katrien Lescrauwaet.

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Correspondence to Georg H. Engelhard .

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Engelhard, G.H. (2016). On the Need to Study Fishing Power Change: Challenges and Perspectives. In: Schwerdtner Máñez, K., Poulsen, B. (eds) Perspectives on Oceans Past. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-017-7496-3_6

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