Remebrance of Oceans Past:
Historical Overfishing and the Recent Collapse of Coastal Ecosystems
- William and Mary B. Memorial Professor, Geosciences Res. Div.,
Scripps Institute of Oceanography
Ecological understanding of
the oceans is based on an unnatural mix of mostly small species whose trophic
relations are distorted to an unknown degree by the overfishing of megafauna
including sharks, sea turtles, sea cows, seals, and whales. Living habitats
like seagrass beds, kelp forests, and coral reefs that once provided critical
3-dimensional habitats for refuge and reproduction of most of the biodiversity
of the oceans are also greatly reduced by fishing and other factors. Successful
restoration and conservation require a more realistic understanding of
the ecology of pristine marine ecosystems that can only be obtained by
a combination of retrospective analyses, modeling, and intensive studies
of succession in very large marine reserves.
Jeremy Jackson is William and
Mary B. Ritter Professor of Oceanography and Director of the Geosciences Division
at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San
Diego and a Senior Scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
in the Republic of Panama. He was Professor of Ecology at the Johns Hopkins
University from 1971 to 1985. Dr. Jackson is the author of more than100 scientific
publications and five books. His current research includes the long-term ecological
consequences of historical overfishing on coastal ecosystems and the ecological
and evolutionary consequences of the gradual formation of the Isthmus of
Panama. He co-founded the Panama Paleontology Project in 1986, an international
group of some 30 scientists, to help support his isthmian research. He has
also worked extensively on the ecology of coral reef communities and the
tempo and mode of speciation in the sea. Dr. Jackson is a Fellow of the American
Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement
of Science, and received the Secretary's Gold Medal for Exceptional Service
of the Smithsonian Institution in 1997 and the Chancellor's Award for Excellence
in Science and Engineering in 2002. His work on overfishing was chosen by
Discover magazine as the outstanding discovery of 2001. He has served on
committees of the National Research Council, the Advisory Board of the National
Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, and the Science Commission
of the Smithsonian Institution.
Jackson, J. B. C. 1997
. Reefs since Columbus. Coral Reefs 16 (suppl.):S23-S32.
Jackson, J. B. C. 2001
. What was natural in the coastal oceans? PNAS 98:5411-5418.
Jackson, J. B. C. et al. 2001
. Historical overfishing and the recent collapse of coastal ecosystems.
Science 293: 629-638.
Jackson, J. B. C. and Sala, E. 2001
. Unnatural oceans. Scientia Marina 65 (suppl. 2):273-281.
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