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There Are Plenty of Fish in the Sea- They're Just Small
By Joseph Tepper, February 27, 2011 @ 09:00 AM (EST)
Source: National Geographic

While overfishing of the last century has devastated many populations of large predatory fish like Cod and Tuna, new research shows that many populations of small, bait fish has more than doubled.

In fact, the overfishing of these larger fish has allowed populations of anchovies and sardines to thrive, or what Villy Christensen, a fisheries scientist at the University of British Columbia, calls the “when the cats are away, the mice will play' effect."

"In many cases, these are small species there is very little interest in, except maybe for fish feed or fish oil," said Christensen, explaining why a spike in baitfish numbers isn't all that beneficial to fisheries. His studies of predatory fish populations over the last 120 years, has revealed the imbalance in an ecosystem, where the smaller fish can profit.

“Less biologically diverse ecosystems become much less resilient to pressures such as pollution, climate change, or changes in currents or food supply," explains Jacqueline Adler, coordinator of the marine and coastal branch of the U.N. Environment Programme. “"We might need a shift in mindset to think of fish as a scarce resource rather than a global commons," she added.

And while the study confirmed suspicions of this shift in balance between predator and prey, it really shows a staggering possibility that there may not 'always be more fish in the sea'.

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