collapsing fish populations off the coast of West Africa are endangering wildlife species on land, indicates a study by researchers from the University of California, usa.
The researchers combed through nearly 30 years of records of fish catches and wildlife population in Ghana. Populations of 41 species of wild mammals in six nature reserves tended to decline more steeply in years of poor fish harvests, the researchers found. Hunting pressure bore no relationship with the weather, oil prices or other political factors. The correlation was strongest in nature reserves closest to the coast, where local people's reliance on fishing was presumably greatest. Rangers in the nature reserves also counted more hunters when fish count was low. Furthermore, more bushmeat was sold in local markets during months when fish was scarce and expensive and even more the following month.
This link suggests that the fate of West African wildlife, rather that of flora and fauna worldwide, may hinge on whether local people can find other more sustainable protein sources. Moreover, the knowledge that overfishing may imperil wildlife on land adds urgency to the world's fisheries crisis. The study authors believe the quickest remedy for Ghana's wildlife may be to cut back on the amount of fish caught by foreign factory trawlers.