Brussels, 25 Sep 2003
The number of small fish in the North Sea has increased and over fishing is the most likely cause, according to new research carried out by the Netherlands institute of fisheries research in Ijmuiden.
More intensive trawling for large fish, many of which eat their own species, has probably resulted in a larger number of smaller fish being able to survive, claims the institute's Niels Dann.
'Fish smaller than about 30 centimetres have actually increased in abundance,' said Mr Dann. 'Fishing has affected the community to the degree that the entire species composition is changing.'
The findings represent the first clear evidence of fishing's effect on the size and composition of marine life, rather than just overall numbers. However, more research is needed before the implications of this discovery can be fully understood.
Mr Dann will present his findings to the annual science conference of the international council for the exploration of the sea in Tallinn, Estonia, on 1 October.