Skip to comments.Complete collapse of North Atlantic fishing predicted
Posted on 02/18/2002 2:59:11 AM PST by semper_libertas
Complete collapse of North Atlantic fishing predicted
The entire North Atlantic is being so severely overfished that it may completely collapse by 2010, reveals the first comprehensive survey of the entire ocean's fishery.
"We'll all be eating jellyfish sandwiches," says Reg Watson, a fisheries scientist at the University of British Columbia. Putting new ocean-wide management plans into place is the only way to reverse the trend, Watson and his colleagues say.
North Atlantic catches have fallen by half since 1950, despite a tripling of the effort put into catching them. The total number of fish in the ocean has fallen even further, they say, with just one sixth as many high-quality "table fish" like cod and tuna as there were in 1900. Fish prices have risen six fold in real terms in 50 years.
The shortage of table fish has forced a switch to other species. "The jellyfish sandwich is not a metaphor - jellyfish is being exported from the US," says Daniel Pauly, also at the University of British Columbia. "In the Gulf of Maine people were catching cod a few decades ago. Now they're catching sea cucumber. By earlier standards, these things are repulsive," he says.
The only hope for the fishery is to drastically limit fishing, for instance by declaring large portions of the ocean off-limits and at the same time reducing the number of fishing ships. Piecemeal efforts to protect certain fisheries have only caused the fishing fleet to overfish somewhere else, such as west Africa.
"It's like shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic," says Andrew Rosenberg, at the University of New Hampshire. He says the number of boats must be reduced: "Less is actually more with fisheries. If you fish less you get more fish."
Normally, falling catches would drive some fishers out of business. But government subsidies actually encourage overfishing, Watson says, with subsidies totalling about $2.5 billion a year in the North Atlantic.
However, Rosenberg was sceptical that any international fishing agreements currently on the table will turn the tide in a short enough timescale. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization and the OECD have initiatives but these are voluntary, he says. A UN-backed monitoring and enforcement plan of action is being discussed but could take 10 years to come into force.
Pauly says only a public reaction like that against whaling in the 1970s would be enough to bring about sufficient change in the way the fish stocks are managed.
The new survey was presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's 2002 annual meeting in Boston.
|10:30 18 February 02|
I see no debate here, merely assertions and demands for policy.
"Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges."
The more corrupt the state is, the more numerous are the laws.
-- Tacitus , Annales
Story Filed: Tuesday, February 05, 2002 10:06 AM EST
OTTAWA, ONTARIO, FEBRUARY 5, 2002 (CCN Newswire via COMTEX) -- The Honourable Robert G. Thibault, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, today indicated that he was pleased with the efforts of the Canadian delegation, but deeply disappointed with the outcome of the special meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) last week. The meeting was held in Helsingor, Denmark, from January 29 to February 1, 2002.
"Canada's objective at these meetings has been to ensure that conservation measures are in place to protect and rebuild fish stocks in the NAFO Regulatory Area, and to ensure that there is compliance with these measures by the vessels of NAFO member countries," said Minister Thibault. "It is very disappointing that, even when presented with strong evidence, NAFO would reject some of our proposals, particularly those which would have helped address the increasing trend towards non-compliance by some foreign fishing vessels."
"However, as a result of the Canadian disclosure of non-compliance, NAFO did agree to establish a process to review and assess compliance performance on an annual basis. This is a serious issue for us and, over the next year, we will increase our monitoring of foreign activity to assess compliance and to provide input into that process. We will continue to press member countries, both bilaterally and in multilateral forums such as NAFO, to take action in response to evidence of violations by their fleets."
Canada's aim at the NAFO meeting in Denmark was to introduce new conservation measures to protect and rebuild stocks, particularly those subject to moratoria. To support the need for these new measures, Canada presented information showing an increasing trend in non-compliance by vessels of some foreign countries party to NAFO. This information is the result of Canada's continuous monitoring of the activity of foreign vessels in the NAFO Regulatory Area.
The specific proposals advanced by Canada were aimed at addressing excessive by-catch of moratoria species, mis-reporting and exceeding quotas. While NAFO accepted some of Canada's proposals, including significantly increasing mesh size in the directed skate fishery and implementing daily reporting of catches in the 3L shrimp fishery, it did reject Canada's proposal to restrict the depth in which the Greenland halibut fishery would be conducted.
Restricting depth in the Greenland halibut fishery would have helped ensure that those participating in this fishery would be legitimately fishing just for that species, and not using this fishery as an opportunity to target some of the species that are currently subject to moratoria. NAFO not only rejected the proposal to restrict Greenland halibut fishing to deeper water, but voted to increase the Greenland halibut Total Allowable Catch (TAC) from 40,000t to 44,000t. This decision ignored advice from the NAFO Scientific Council, which had recommended maintaining the TAC of 40,000t.
With the exception of Greenland halibut, all other harvest levels recommended by the Scientific Council for NAFO stocks were adopted by NAFO. Moratoria will be maintained on 3NO cod, 3NO witch flounder, 3LN redfish and 3LNO American plaice stocks.
The TAC for the yellowtail flounder fishery will continue to be set at 13,000t. The Canadian fleet which has the predominant share of the NAFO quota of yellowtail flounder will continue to be managed with a set of strict controls similar to those applied in recent years. Conservation measures include minimum mesh size, 100% observer coverage and a dockside-monitoring program to monitor all landings.
Current management measures for 3L shrimp will continue in 2002 with a TAC of 6,000t, of which Canada receives 5,000t. The remaining 1,000t is fished outside Canada's fisheries waters in the NAFO Regulatory Area and is shared by other NAFO members. The moratorium on shrimp fishing in Divisions 3NO will continue.
Measures adopted at the Special Fisheries Commission meeting will be put in place during the 2002 season.
"I want to thank members of the Canadian delegation for their commitment to the conservation of fish stocks and for their contribution in addressing complex issues associated with the work of the Commission" added Minister Thibault.
NAFO was founded in 1978 to provide for the conservation and management of fish stocks that are found in the NAFO Regulatory Area, which is beyond Canada's 200-mile limit. Its members are Canada, Bulgaria, Cuba, Denmark (on behalf of the Faroe Islands and Greenland), Estonia, the European Union, France (on behalf of St. Pierre and Miquelon), Iceland, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine and the United States of America.
The backgrounder related to this announcement is available on the automated Fax-On-Demand service of Fisheries and Oceans. It is immediately retrievable -- to users with a touchtone phone and a fax machine -- 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Seems this same claim is made every few years.
Sounds like capitalism will be the MOST effective means of regulation. As fish become more scarce prises will rise, demand will drop and number of fishing vessels will drop accordingly.
This problem was long ago dealt with for freshwater fish with the explosion of fisheries and hatcheries that are dedicated to breeding table fish.
Where there is a $$ there is a way. A concept totally lost on most leftists.
Exactly, an equilibrium will always result and self-regulation will occur. This is just like the greenhouse effect (in a way). If worldwide CO2 is on the rise, plants will grow better (that's been proven) and CO2 goes back down. It's like you said, "a concept totally lost on most leftist".
I just bought my first cod fillet 2 days ago for 5.99 per/lb. I have no idea how to cook a cod. I guess I'll put jerk sauce on it. What do you think of reply #6?
Yet, the sport fisherman dosen't destroy anything. His problem is not sending enough money to people like the Clintons. So, he's not allowed to take the King's deer. Meanwhile the commercial crowd is hitting it with cables and nets that can go 3,000 ft down.
The sport fishing creates employment and good healthy recreation time. I say, the smaller the fisherman is, the more support he should get.And, get out of the way of the sportsman.
I think you're safe, rux. There's about as much real fish in a Filet-O-Fish as there is beef in a Double Cheeseburger :-) (BTW-I love 'em myself)
Yes, fish prices are high...If you ever have an excess of money... buy some salmon and cook it as above!
No, I think that's wrong. I'm new to the fishing sciene and to the Keys, but I've been listening to a conservative fishing show every afternoon as I work. From what I can understand, unlimited sport fishing in the Keys would reduce many populations drastically. Say what you will about whether they should just be allowed to dwindle and them come up again when the Fishermen are gone, but there are enough sport fishermen here now to do some real damage.
The sport fishing creates employment and good healthy recreation time. I say, the smaller the fisherman is, the more support he should get.
You hit the nail on the head. Well said.
Ah, there it is again.
That is not a solution. It is the Tragedy of the Commons. The situation stabilizes with a very small number of fish in the sea.
The goal should be to maximize the catch over a very long time period. That can be done by making sure that individuals own the fish that are being caught, just as the solution to the Tragedy of the Commons was to partition the land and sell it to individual farmers.
I would do it like the selling of the state industries in Russia. Every person in the countries that border the North Atlantic would get a share of the fish. The shares could then be sold to companies. Anyone could fish in the North Atlantic, but they'd have to pay the companies that own the fish, in proportion to their take. If a certain fish stock, say, cod, became depleted, the owners would naturally raise the price of cod.
The way it stands now, the price mechanism is actually working against the fish. The price changes with the scarcity of the fish, but the difficulty in catching the fish doesn't change in proportion (owing to the fact that they travel in schools). (The passenger pigeon went extinct largely because of its penchant for forming the largest flock possible; even the last remnant of the species was hard to miss.) Because the price goes up faster than the difficulty in catching the fish, there is actually an incentive to overfish.
Capitalism can indeed overcome this, but the fish need owners first.
I still live in Florida and things are not so rosy now thanks to the "net-ban" constitutional amendment passed in 1994.
We used to have plenty of fresh sea food markets and plenty of reasonably priced seafood restaurants here. We don't anymore thanks to the efforts of one magazine, radical environmenatlists and idiot voters.
Stop fishing for one species and target another for a decade.The rebound is amazing.
We do this on the Great South Bay,everyone goes clamming they dry up, switch to crabbing, now thier gone, gill net weakfish, no more weakfish, its back to the clams because they had a break for a few years. And so it goes.
NO SUBSIDIES JUST SUPPLY AND DEMAND AND GOOD HONEST HARD WORK. THE AMERICAN WAY.
And it saved your recreational fishery which generates billions of dollars more income for Florida than your commercial fishery.
It's interesting how people who don't fish or who don't know jack squat about the ocean on FR always question commercial overfishing articles.
It's not invented environmentalist BS. It's real. Commercial fishermen have a history of destroying fishery after fishery.
Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges."An early statement of Conservation of Entropy!
The more corrupt the state is, the more numerous are the laws.
-- Tacitus , Annales
Wonder if this refers to the ever-courageous French?
I remember my older relatives telling me about what it was like in the depression, after several years, the white tail deer almost disappeared completely, as soon as demand went up. Now that there are managed deer there is a pretty good abundance, but this wouldn't have happened with unregulated hunting, they would have continued top decline. Happened with wild ginseng as well throughout appalachia, harvested almost to extinction, even market pressure didn't help, because with the ginseng being one of the few ways to snag cash in a collapsed rural economy, the older patches kept getting found and wiped out. It's extremely hard to find legitimate quality "wild" ginseng anymore. I'm in the woods a lot, only seen a coupla decent wild patches in years and years of trompping sround, and from reports it used to be quite abundant.
Market hunting/fishing is just that, it's a foraging/scavenging effort it's not an agricultural effort. The worlds wild and healthy stocks are being seriously depleted in the oceans, and with populatiion pressure increasing the demand, it's going to get worse. An unregulated market will just keep driving up the price, as there are enough rich people who would kep demanding it, well past the point of the majority of the peoples ability to consider it as affordable food anymore. Look how close wild buffalo got, and then there's the passenger pigeon complete 100% reality, unregulated hunting and demand wiped out a species in a few years that numbered in the billions, now there really, really, really aren't *any*, no matter what the free marketers might say. The 'farmed' salt water stocks are not healthy, you can see it in the reports, they suffer a lot, the technology still isn't there yet, and probably won't be for a long time. It's an effort to be sure, but in no way would it replace what a humongous ocean sized wild count would be, and the cost would rise dramatically. It can be done, and I'm a proponent of more efforts there, but it's really down to apples and oranges then, it's not "fishing" in the classical sense of just harvesting-only. I mean, it's just numbers, x- billions of people eating fish, that demand just keeps goes up, x-more boats fishing because as demand goes up the price per pound goes up, will lead to "much less fish" and much more effort per fish to aquire remaining in the wild. Where a collapse point is, is about the only thing left to "debate' there, what would constitute a collapse.
Hmm, was reading about the lobstering, it used to be you could go just offshore to get big lobsters, now they have to set pots in water so deep just to get small ones that it would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Try to even just start a lobstering business, it's not hardly possible now.
This isn't to say they are NO fish left, obviously there are, but the studies probably have some good validity to them. No easy solution either, best I can think of is no exceptions to the 200 mile economic exclusion zone. we have such a zone, it's not enforced much, and a lot of exceptions are allowed. That and protecting the estuaries where a lot of the food chain habitat is critical for a variety of species. It's tremendously important to keep what estuaries we still have healthy, because they are the initiators of a lot of the fish we consume, an incredibly important part of the whole ocean marine animal cycle.
Until recently, I lived in the Northeast and the fishing industry is in tough shape. The government regulations that are in effect already have not helped anyone, and more regulations is not a good solution.
My grandfather was involved in the fishing industry (in Boston) for over 40 years and was lamenting the decline in the early 70s. At that point, in time the Russian factory ships were coming as close as 3 miles from the shore and sucking up all the fish and processing them all in one operation. Well, the government stepped in and declared that we have a 200-mile limit. Everything stabilized for a few years but eventually the fisherman upgraded and modernized their fleets. Every one was happy for a few years but eventually demand outstripped supply for the preferred fish (Haddock, Cod and Halibut).
Skip ahead a 25 years and what happens now is that there are plenty of certain types of fish, but not enough of the preferred fish. So what the government has done is limit the amount of the preferred fish that can be caught. Sounds good, right? Aha, not so fast. When a boat goes out to catch the species of fish that arent limited the nets also scoop up a certain number of the types that are regulated. By the time the net gets unloaded the fish are all dead. The Captain of the fishing boat has only two choices: bring the Haddock and Cod in for sale and risk getting fined by the government or just dump the dead fish back in the ocean.
Im not an expert on this issue but watching the fishing industry in New England decline has been painful to watch. Ive oversimplified the NE fishing industry here but I hope that this small amount of information contributes some understanding of the complexity of the problem.
I knew something didn't add up here. The economics of the article didn't make any sense until this line appeared.
Basically, it's saying subsidies have removed the free market's inherent protection of resources. Governments are keeping prices low when demand is high. Of course that's going to lead to overfishing.
This article's recommendations are basically just more socialism. That may be necessary due to Europe's increasing addiction to subsidies. But the most obvious and quick solution would be to remove the stupid subsidies.
People have no concept of economics. There's a steady level of demand. It's not possible for prices to rise and demand to fall. As the supply of fish declines, it is demand staying CONSTANT that causes the price to rise. Sure, fewer people are willing to pay the higher prices, but as long as there are more people willing to pay that price than the remaining supply of fish, it is in the economic best interest of the commercial fisherman to keep going out to wipe out the last remaining stocks of an overfished species, since he's getting so much $$$ per pound.
The original article is a bit confusing regarding tuna. When they talk about overfished they mean bluefin tuna....good luck finding that in your local seafood market, most of it is going to Japan for a zillion dollars a pound. Yellowfin (chunk light) and Albacore (white meat) tuna aren't particularly overfished and can be bought relatively cheaply everywhere.