Dr. Rainer Froese - Oceana USA

Dr. Rainer Froese

Rainer Froese is senior scientist of marine ecology at the Leibniz-Institut für Meereswissenschaften IfM-GEOMAR in Kiel and a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation.

His research focuses on Fisheries biology, Population dynamics and life history of fish, Biodiversity patterns and Bio-informatics, with the goal of conservation and sustainable management in mind. He is Leader (1990 – 2000) and Coordinator (2001 – present) of the FishBase Project, a searchable database of 25,000 fish names. The site is visted 2,5 million times each month.

Froese considers intelligent merging of available biological and environmental data as one of the main tasks of the new field of biodiversity. In 2001 he accepted an invitation to join an international committee to establish an Ocean Biogeographic Information System OBIS, intended to make use of the Internet by combining occurrence and abundance data for marine species with oceanographic data sets. 

In a recent piece in the journal Fish and Fisheries, Rainer Froese suggests three simple indicators of overfishing. The indicators are: percentage of mature fish in catch, with 100 percent as target; percentage of specimens with optimum length in catch, with 100 percent as target; and percentage of ‘mega-spawners’ in catch, with zero percent as target and 30 to 40 percent as representative of reasonable stock structure if no upper size limit exists.

Froese writes that such indicators will allow more stakeholders such as fishers, fish dealers, supermarket managers, consumers and politicians to participate in fisheries management and to eventually hold and reverse the global pattern of what he terms convenience overfishing–deliberate overfishing sanctioned by official bodies that find it more ‘convenient’ to risk eventual collapse of fish stocks than to risk social and political conflicts.