March 1, 2011

The Feb. 21 news article “Experts sound alarm over decline of predator fish” reported on an unpublished, not peer-reviewed presentation at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting stating that the number of large predator fish in the oceans had declined by two-thirds in the past 100 years and that their prey, the forage fish, had doubled in abundance. If true, this is good, not bad news.

Harvesting the large fish of the ocean down to one-third of their original abundance is exactly how one maximizes the long-term sustainable yield of fish stocks. One-third of original abundance is not overfished; it is the objective of U.S. and international fisheries management.

Ray Hilborn, Seattle

The writer is a professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington.

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