Fish market prices drive overfishing of the 'big ones'
The relationship between fish market price and body size has not been explored much in fisheries science. Here, the mean market prices and fish body size were collected in order to examine the hypothesis that large fish, both among- and within-species, are being selectively targeted by fisheries because they may yield greater profit. Trophic levels, vulnerability to fishing and global landings were also collected because these variables may also be related to the market fish price. These relationships were examined using generalized additive models (GAM), which showed that, among species, fish market price was positively dependent on maximum total length (P = 0.0024) and negatively on landings (P = 0.0006), whereas it was independent of trophic level (P > 0.05) and vulnerability to fishing (P > 0.05). When the fish price vs. size relationship was tested within-species, large individuals were consistently attaining higher market prices compared to their medium and small-sized counterparts. We conclude that the selective removal of the larger fish, which is driven by their market price and to a lesser extent by their availability, may contribute to their overfishing.