The small world of global marine fisheries: The cross-boundary consequences of larval dispersal

Fish stocks are managed within national boundaries and by regional organizations, but the interdependence of stocks between these jurisdictions, especially as a result of larval dispersal, remains poorly explored. We examined the international connectivity of 747 commercially fished taxonomic groups by building a global network of fish larval dispersal. We found that the world’s fisheries are highly interconnected, forming a small-world network, emphasizing the need for international cooperation. We quantify each country’s dependence on its neighbors in terms of landed value, food security, and jobs. We estimate that more than $10 billion in annual catch from 2005 to 2014 is attributable to these international flows of larvae. The economic risks associated with these dependencies is greatest in the tropics.

Nandini Ramesh, James A. Rising, Kimberly L. Oremus, Science 21 Jun 2019: Vol. 364, Issue 6446, pp. 1192-1196, DOI: 10.1126/science.aav3409