Persisting Worldwide Seabird-Fishery Competition Despite Seabird Community Decline

David Gremillet* (Corresponding Author), Aurore Ponchon, Michelle Paleczny, Maria-Lourdes D. Palomares, Vasiliki Karpouzi, Daniel Pauly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


Fisheries transform marine ecosystems and compete with predators [1], but temporal trends in seabird-fishery competition had never been assessed on a worldwide scale. Using catch reconstructions [2] for all fisheries targeting taxa that are also seabird prey, we demonstrated that average annual fishery catch increased from 59 to 65 million metric tons between 1970-1989 and 1990-2010. For the same periods, we estimated that global annual seabird food consumption decreased from 70 to 57 million metric tons. Despite this decrease, we found sustained global seabird-fishery food competition between 1970-1989 and 1990-2010. Enhanced competition was identified in 48% of all areas, notably the Southern Ocean, Asian shelves, Mediterranean Sea, Norwegian Sea, and Californian coast. Fisheries generate severe constraints for seabird populations on a worldwide scale, and those need to be addressed urgently. Indeed, seabirds are the most threatened bird group, with a 70% community-level population decline across 1950-2010 [3].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4009-4013
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number24
Early online date6 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

This is a contribution of the Sea Around Us project, a scientific collaboration between the University of British Columbia, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. D.G. acknowledges the support of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), the French Polar Institute IPEV (program 388 ADACLIM), the Belmont Forum, and the French National Research Agency ANR (TAMANI program), as well as of Jean-Christophe Auffray for the Office for Science, French Embassy in Canada. We are grateful for the analytical assistance of Doris Gomez, Eric Sy, Sarah Popov, and Christopher Hoornaert, for the illustrative assistance of Bénédicte Martin and Evelyn Liu, and for the constructive comments of three anonymous reviewers.




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