FSBI Publications

FSBI Briefing Papers


Prepared by experts in a form accessible to non-specialists, including the general public, the papers present detailed, authoritative peer-reviewed syntheses of current knowledge on selected topics of public interest relevant to the Society’s objectives.

The Briefing Papers, which provide syntheses of current knowledge, have attracted considerable interest and the the Society has found them to be an effective means of promoting scientifically-informed public discussion about important and controversial topics in fish biology and fisheries science. The FSBI Council welcomes suggestions from its membership. If there is a topic that you feel is appropriate for such treatment, then please contact the Vice-President with the following information: 1) a title; 2) a brief statement on why this topic is appropriate as a Briefing Paper (including the main issues involved and where the public interest lies); and 3) a suggested author, or group of authors.


Effects of fishing on biodiversity in the North Sea

Biological diversity means the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems. Any shift in diversity, positive or negative, as a result of fishing disturbance is cause for concern. Here we review current understanding of the impact of fishing on genetic and species diversity within the confines of the North Sea, which is one of the world's major shelf areas boasting a productive ecosystem and a substantial fishery exploited by eight bordering European countries.
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Fish welfare

Those who work professionally with fishes, whose sports or hobbies involve fish and those concerned with the welfare of animals in general seek answers to a number of questions about the effects of human activities on fish welfare. This Briefing Paper considers how welfare is defined and measured, and examines how various human activities affect fish welfare. No opinion is given about what is acceptable and what is unacceptable, but based on current knowledge harmful effects are identified so that others can make their own informed judgements.

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Marine protected areas in the North Sea

The concept of using Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to conserve fisheries and the marine environment generally has come largely from sedentary fish living on tropical reefs. MPA objectives include stock maintenance or recovery, habitat restoration, protection of non-target species, development of recreational and educational activities, and promotion of scientific understanding. However, the environment and resources of the North Sea are quite different from those from which the MPA concept has been primarily derived, and therefore the application of MPAs in areas such as Northwest Europe needs careful consideration. The MPA concept has had a mixed reception from the scientific community, and this Briefing Paper discusses the extent to which MPAs conserve and protect fish stock and habitat whilst serving industry and other concerns.
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Effects of Climate Change

Environmental change is a characteristic feature of life on earth, and has played a major role in the evolution and global distribution of biodiversity. However, the predicted rate of climatic change, especially in temperature, is such that it will exceed any that has occurred over recent geological time.  There is a wide scientific consensus that human activities have modified the composition of the atmosphere, and that this will result in significant future climatic change (e.g. increased air temperature in the UK of 2.0­-3.5°C over the next 80 years), with consequences for biodiversity as well as ecosystem structure and function. To understand why climate change has important consequences for the fishes of Britain and Ireland, this Briefing Paper examines how the climate of Britain and Ireland has changed in recent decades and the consequences of future climate predictions (using the UKCIP02 United Kingdom Climate Impacts Programme report) for aquatic ecosystems, with specific reference to freshwater, marine and brackish water fish communities.
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Non-native freshwater fish introductions

The rate at which non-native freshwater fishes have been introduced worldwide has doubled in the space of 30 years, with the principal motives being aquaculture (39%) and improvement of wild stocks (17%). Economic activity is the principal driver of human-mediated non-native fish introductions, including the globalisation of fish culture, whereby the production of the African cichlid tilapia is seven times higher in Asia than in most areas of Africa, and Chile is responsible for around 30% of the world's farmed salmon, both based on introduced species. The review is a contemporary account of knowledge on aspects of introductions of non-native fish species and includes issues associated with introduction pathways, ecological and economic impacts, risk assessments, management options and impact of climate change. It offers guidance to reconcile the increasing demands of certain stakeholders to diversify their activities using non-native fishes with the long-term sustainability of native aquatic biodiversity.
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Nanotechnology in fisheries and aquaculture

Nanotechnology is the application of nano scale materials to products or processes which has become a rapidly growing industry now worth billions of US dollars, with many potential benefits to society, including fisheries and the aquaculture industry. Applications for fisheries could include nano polymers and coatings to strengthen food packaging to protect delicate fish fillets. The shelf life of fish and shellfish could also be improved through the use of anti-bacterial nano coatings, and transparent polymer films that could help exclude oxygen from the food product. Nano sensors could also be used on food packaging. Fish will eat feed containing nanomaterials (NMs) and nanotechnology could be used to improve infeed delivery of micronutrients, or unstable ingredients, such as fat soluble vitamins, minerals, or fatty acids. Fish health applications in aquaculture could include antibacterial surfaces in aquaculture systems delivery of veterinary products, and nanosensors for detecting aquatic pathogens. There are also many applications for nanotechnology in water purification. From an engineering perspective, there is an abundance of new building materials, textiles, and fabrics that could be used in aquaculture engineering and on fishing vessels. Occupational health risks from NMs are probably low for fisheries workers given that few staff would be exposed to raw NMs or free particles, but guidance is already available for safe handling. Current ecotoxicity data suggest that manufactured NMs have relatively low toxicity compared to some traditional chemicals, but there are many data gaps, including those for important aquaculture and fisheries species. The benefits of using nanotechnology in fisheries and aquaculture are considerable, the potential data gaps on hazards to the environment or health are manageable, and should not stifle responsible innovation.