Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Saving Our Fisheries

Within five minutes of opening my new issue of National Geographic over the weekend, I was thoroughly depressed. The April issue features a series of stories on the global fish crisis. Most depressing were the stunning photos and the online multimedia content documenting the ever-mounting slaughter of fish — and subsequent waste of huge quantities of unwanted fish, or "bycatch" — along with practices that decimate marine ecosystems.

Then I started reading a a new report from Environmental Defense, titled "Sustaining America's Fisheries." In line with the National Geographic stories, it notes that worldwide, as many as 90 percent of large predatory fish species are gone. In the U.S., the report states that 54 fish stocks are overfished, and many others are in decline. By Environmental Defense's calculation, 72,000 fishing jobs have been lost just in the Pacific Northwest. "Despite decades of management," the report states, "fisheries and fishing communities are still suffering. Something is wrong and must be changed.

According to Environmental Defense, allocating a specific percentage of a fishery's total catch to individual fisherman (so-called "catch-shares") can dramatically improve the situation. From the report: "This study shows that we can simultaneously protect the environment; increase profits; provide higher quality fish; create more full-time jobs; and save lives."

It sounds too good to be true. But after seeing just how dire the situation has become worldwide, thanks to National Geographic's incredible coverage, I'll let myself hope that it's not.

-- Tom Yulsman


Redneck Joe said...

I'm from the Midwest of the US. I never really grew up eating much fish, rather seafood; never really liked it anyway. So, I couldn't comprehend why all the fishing until I read the Nat.Geo. April issue feature story. Most of the world consume so much seafood. It's crazy! I know so little about our oceans, I think that's why we abuse it so well.

HL said...

I'm less sure about the quota system, Tom. There is obviously a strong incentive to cheat, and besides, they are very hard to enforce.

Quotas probably work well on a nation state basis. That is, after all, how many transnational fisheries, including the Pacific salmon fishery, is allocated among nations. But, when it comes to individual industry participants, I believe the better solution to the overfishing problem lies in the proper use of incentives. As with many other environmental problems, the prudent application of market-based tools can have a very positive impact. Certainly they should be tried here, where the problems inherent in a quota system are compounded by a massive free-rider problem.

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Anonymous said...

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ashish said...

well i am from wardha(maharashtra).this is very interesting.i think this shows the tough condition of the balancing invironment.

Stephen Leahy said...

Hi Tom, I wrote about some Aussie economists on the share idea last month for IPS -- they've been using it for awhile: Catch less fish, Make More $

QBORN said...

Saving Our Fisheries .
Very interesting artcle I find it today!


Prophetofgoogle said...

ou are, without a doubt, on the side of commercial fisherman. I like how the IFQ's worked for them. They have a year around season and the recreational guy has 3 months or less and allowed TWO fish. What a joke keep fishing until they are gone!!

eventureinnovations said...

THE "wholesale collapse" of fisheries off the eastern seaboard can still be averted if strong action is taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions and manage pollution.

A report from the nation's top science body says a combination of rises in surface water temperature, weaker currents, slightly stronger surface winds and reductions in nutrient levels from deep water are all expected to affect fish stocks in waters from Brisbane to Adelaide.
Surface water temperatures are expected to rise by up to 2C by 2070.

Anonymous said...

I do not agree with point below.
But I do not like eating fish or sea food

"From the report: "This study shows that we can simultaneously protect the environment; increase profits; provide higher quality fish; create more full-time jobs; and save lives."

Nice article!

IXMATCH said...

I like seafood very much!

Hope global fish crisis can be solved