TAU researchers offer solution to looming fish crisis

Israeli scientists discover the biological flaw that dooms fish larvae’s ability to feed.

Fish for sale at world's largest fish market. (Shutterstock)

Fish for sale at world’s largest fish market. (Shutterstock)

The global fish crisis that is meant to take trout, salmon and cod off the menu by 2050, may have been wrongly diagnosed. While a 2010 report by the United Nations Environment Program states that over-fishing and pollution have nearly emptied the world’s fish stocks, a new Israeli study says the reason behind why fish larvae are biologically doomed to die days after hatching is a more important reason as to why the taste of sushi could change forever.

Dr. Roi Holzman and Victor China of the Department of Zoology at Tel Aviv University’s George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences say the reason why 90 percent of fish larvae are biologically doomed to die mere days after hatching has to do with ‘hydrodynamic starvation.’ With this understanding of the mechanism that kills off the majority of the world’s fish larvae, leaving only a marginal proportion to populate the world’s oceans, “We can help find a solution to the looming fish crisis in the world,” said Dr. Holzman.

The researchers say “hydrodynamic starvation,” or the physical inability to feed due to environmental incompatibility, is the reason so many fish larvae perish.

“By focusing on the constraints placed on larvae survival, we have a better chance of producing higher quality mariculture,” a specialized branch of aquaculture involving the cultivation of marine organisms for food and other products in the open ocean, said Dr. Holzman. “If we can produce better fish, this will have huge implications for our ability to maintain fish populations.”

The study was published in PNAS.

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About Viva Sarah Press

Viva Sarah Press is an associate editor and writer at ISRAEL21c. She has extensive experience in reporting/editing in the print, online and broadcast fields. Her work has been published by international media outlets including Israel Television, CNN, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post and Time Out.