A new and simple method to predict fishery collapse and potentially avoid food fish industry damage was presented by Matt Burgess, Stephen Polasky, and David Tilman from the University of Minnesota in the Sept. 16, 2013, edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The scientists developed the "Eventual Threat Index" that predicts when a given species of fish will have been harvested beyond the point of recovery decades before the event occurs.
The new method focuses on data collection where more than one species is a food fish or is endangered. All fish populations can be predicted by counting the most profitable or managed species.
The new method was tested on eight Pacific tuna and bill fish populations that have been documented to be in decline or endangered by conventional counting methods. The results correlated with the known values from harvest rates.
The "Eventual Threat Index" predicted the decline of all four endangered fish populations and could have predicted present population sizes based on catch data in 1950. The researchers claim that fish management authorities could use presently available data to predict future fish populations in any fishery as of today
The new method is much less expensive and time consuming than present methods of fish counting and population estimates. The researchers are hopeful that government and commercial fishermen adopt this new method in order to preserve the fish population and the livelihood of fishermen.