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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Nutrient yields from northwest Atlantic fisheries : analysis, indicators, and optimization Driscoll, John David


There is a fundamental challenge to the dual objectives of improving ocean health and ending hunger and malnutrition. Seafood derived from fisheries plays a critical role in providing a variety of nutrients to people who are at high risk of malnutrition. However, catches of overfished stocks must be reduced, at least in the near term, to allow stock biomass to rebuild. Reducing catches, in turn, may result in reduced availability of nutrients for people. This suggests that fisheries decisions may have unintended consequences for human nutrition. Currently, nutrition information does not inform fisheries decision-making processes. One challenge to the integration of nutrition and fisheries policy is that fisheries yields are quantified, analyzed, and broadly conceived in terms of the weight of the catch, without regard for the nutrient content of the catch. In this dissertation, I explore this issue from multiple perspectives. In Chapter 2, I analyze the yields of a suite of nutrients obtained from fisheries landings in the Northwest Atlantic Fishery Organization (NAFO) region over the period 1950-2014. Results demonstrate that trends and patterns in nutrient yields can differ, sometimes substantially, from those associated with catch weights. Some species may appear to be minor from a catch weight perspective but play outsized roles in supplying specific nutrients. Notably, recent yields of multiple nutrients have been disproportionately reliant on one species (Atlantic herring, Clupea harengus). In Chapter 3, I evaluate the nutrient yield consequences of the use of Atlantic herring as bait in the Maine fishery for American lobster (Homarus americanus). Results indicate that the lobster fishery likely consumes more nutrients through its use of herring than it produces through lobster landings. In Chapter 4, I present a theoretical approach to optimizing fisheries’ nutrient yields relative to landings weights. This approach maximizes the difference between total nutrient yields and total fishery landings. In Chapter 5, I apply this optimization approach to NAFO fisheries. The results of Chapter 5 indicate that recent NAFO nutrient yields could be maintained at relatively high levels even if total landings were to be reduced.

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