Lessons Learned

Understanding and predicting the ecological effects of exploitation is difficult, as it involves complex interactions between the human realm and ecosystems. Scientific uncertainty in this field has often been used to delay necessary restraints on exploitation. Consequently, throughout human history there are surprisingly few examples of sustainable exploitation. However, there are examples of recovery of overexploited populations once they were protected. For example, some marine mammal and bird populations as well as some forage fish stocks have recovered once exploitation pressure was eased. Ecologists need to invest heavily into the comparative study of exploited and protected ecosystems to generate much needed understanding of the mechanisms of decline and recovery in exploited ecosystems. They must also communicate their insights clearly to the public and decision makers in order to help avoid the destruction of natural resources that humans and others species need for survival.

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