Fished to the Edge of Extinction

A new article in the New Yorker magazine is worth a read if you care at all about the health of ocean fisheries. LINK

As we have fished so many ocean species to the edge of extinction, we have to ask ourselves, is there a hopeful ending to this story? Are fisheries exhaustible? That was the question posed at the Great International Fisheries Exhibition in 1883. The answer then was, no. Even today, the answer still seems to be know despite all the evidence to the contrary. Cod, wolffish, halibut, haddock, swordfish, marlin, skate and the might bluefin tuna populations have been decimated. By any reasonable calculation, the stocks of large predatory fish have declined 90% since the 1950's. That is indeed a remarkable accomplishment. And to think, we have some of the most sophisticated technology to measure fish stocks and total catch, but still nothing is done. We have an organization in ICCAT, who is charged with managing the catch of bluefin tuna. "In 2008, ICCAT scientists recommended that the bluefin catch in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean be limited to between eighty-five hundred and fifteen thousand tons. ICCAT instead adopted a quota of twenty-two thousand tons. That same year, a panel of independent reviewers, hired by the commission to assess its performance, observed that ICCAT “is widely regarded as an international disgrace.” Carl Safina, the noted marine conservationist, has nicknamed the group the International Conspiracy to Catch All the Tunas.

Where does the madness end? In 1964, the annual global catch was 50 million tons. In 1967, the U.S. Interior Dept. estimated the catch could be increased to 2 billion tons. That is a 40 fold increase. The total world catch topped out at 85 million tons in the 80's. What planet do those charged with managing ocean species live on? In the past 20 years, we have seen global catch decline year after year. Estimates indicate we appear to be loosing 500,000 tons a year as less fish are caught. One day, your children will tell stories to their children about the stories you used to tell them about great fish being caught at sea. Now, you are probably thinking, BS, don't be so alarmist. The facts speak for themselves. Ask yourself this question, do you care or do you see it as someone else's problem? Be responsible fishermen and take a stand. We need to start now to rebuild fish stocks, so we can continue to enjoy the sport we all love so much. 

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