Open Access

Pollution effects on fisheries — potential management activities

  • C. J. Sindermann1
Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen33:BF02414788


Management of ocean pollution must be based on the best available scientific information, with adequate consideration of economic, social, and political realities. Unfortunately, the best available scientific information about pollution effects on fisheries is often fragmentary, and often conjectural; therefore a primary concern of management should be a critical review and assessment of available factual information about effects of pollutants on fish and shellfish stocks. A major problem in any such review and assessment is the separation of pollutant effects from the effects of all the other environmental factors that influence survival and well-being of marine animals. Data from long-term monitoring of resource abundance, and from monitoring of all determinant environmental variables, will be required for analyses that lead to resolution of the problem. Information must also be acquired about fluxes of contaminants through resource-related ecosystems, and about contaminant effects on resource species as demonstrated in field and laboratory experiments. Other possible management activities include: (1) encouragement of continued efforts to document clearly the localized and general effects of pollution on living resources; (2) continued pressure to identify and use reliable biological indicators of environmental degradation (indicators of choice at present are: unusually high levels of genetic and other anomalies in the earliest life history stages; presence of pollution-associated disease signs, particularly fin erosion and ulcers, in fish; and biochemical/physiological changes); and (3) major efforts to reduce inputs of pollutants clearly demonstrated to be harmful to living resources, from point sources as well as ocean dumping. Such pollution management activities, based on continuous efforts in stock assessment, environmental assessment, and experimental studies, can help to insure that rational decisions will be made about uses and abuses of coastal/estuarine waters.