Starting a Global Health Scientific Journal

Starting a Global Health Scientific Journal - Letters to...

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Fish in Deep-Water Coral Habitats DAVID MALAKOFF’SARTICLE “U.S. ASKED TO act immediately to protect deep-sea corals” (News of the Week, 2 April, p. 31), reporting on a petition to the U.S. government by the advocacy group Oceana, suggests that fish species found among deep-water corals are under threat unless this habitat is protected. Most would agree that the destruction of habitats that are several thousands of years old is neither a sustain- able or desirable activity, given likely recovery times measured in hun- dreds of years. Oceana’s petition is reported to claim that the Federal Magnuson-Stevens Act compels U.S. regulators to protect rare or fragile fish habi- tats from anything but minimal or temporary disruption. But the Act pertains only to “essential fish habitat,” defined as “those waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding or growth to maturity” ( 1 ). Of the scientific studies cited within the petition, none demonstrates a crit- ical dependency of any fish species on the presence of deep-water corals. In the petition, much is made of two recent studies of deep- water corals off Norway ( 2 ) and in the Gulf of Alaska ( 3 ). Nevertheless, in the Norwegian study, only the abundance of redfish was significantly higher in the coral habitat compared with adjacent areas that were fished commercially. And, even for redfish, the paper recognized that it was unlikely that the coral habitat had an important role in the provision of food. Both this and the Alaskan study simply demonstrate that fish and other biota tend to aggregate around structures on the seabed. The same effect can be achieved with artificial reefs constructed of tires, concrete blocks, or even scrapped street-cars. There is as yet no scientific evidence to indi- cate that the removal of deep-water coral reefs would have an adverse effect on wider stocks of associated species. In an era when fisheries scientists are striving to work constructively with the fishing industry, petitions that generate confusion over the real scientific issues could divert resources away from the real problems—getting control of fishing efforts and rebuilding stocks—which are the key conservation problems facing today’s marine ecosystems. MICHEL J. KAISER Marine Policy Center, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Falmouth, MA 02543, USA. References 1. See www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/magact/mag3a.html. 2. J. H. Fossa, P. B. Mortensen, D. M. Furevik, Hydrobiologia 471 ,1 (2002). 3. K. J. Kreiger, B. L.Wing, Hydrobiologia 471 , 83 (2002). Starting a Global Scientific Journal DOES A COUNTRY NEED TO PUBLISH ITS OWN internationally recognized journals to be a scientific power? This question was debated recently by a group of Japanese scientists, as reported by D. Normile (“Japan ponders starting a global journal,” News of the Week, 12 March, p. 1599). Following an objective analysis, they
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Starting a Global Health Scientific Journal - Letters to...

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