"But even low levels of fishing do change marine ecosystems and may collapse vulnerable species. That's why we require a combination of measures, including gear restrictions and closed areas, in order to meet both fisheries and conservation objectives."
The authors caution that much work remains to be done to end global overfishing, as a large fraction of global fisheries are not properly managed, reported or regulated.
Particularly outside wealthy industrialized nations, prospects for reducing fishing mortality are often more limited unless fishers get access to alternative sources of food and income. The authors highlight the need for a more global perspective on rebuilding marine resources.
"Fisheries managers currently presiding over depleted fish stocks need to become fast followers of the successes revealed in this paper," says Pamela Mace, a co-author from the New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries.
"We need to move much more rapidly towards rebuilding individual fish populations and restoring the ecosystems of which they are a part, if there is to be any hope for the long-term viability of fisheries and fishing communities."