Cancel
Advanced Search
KEYWORDS
CATEGORY
AUTHOR
MONTH

Please click here to take a brief survey

The Secret To Preventing Fishery Decline: Stop Fishing So Much

by Tim Varga

We have a range of tools to restore fisheries, but all require good government

The concept of restoring ecosystems damaged by human exploitation has always interested me, so the recent edition of Science featuring Restoration Ecology sent my heart into a pitter-patter. There are a number of good news stories and perspectives in it, but the primary research article on “Rebuilding Global Fisheries” in particular deserves a few words.

Global fish stocks have been declining precipitously since the industrialization of the fishing fleet, especially since the 1950s when technology, globalization, and improved shipbuilding proved too much for many popular (and some previously unpopular) fish stocks. Overfishing has resulted in a sharp decline in overall fish biomass, but has been especially hard on larger, longer-lived fish. Not only are there fewer fish in the seas, the ones that remain are on average 22% smaller today than 50 years ago. We are basically eating our way down the food chain, destroying the largest species and then moving on to smaller ones that the larger ones originally ate. Where we once caught large schools of giant fish on the open ocean (tuna), many people now munch on shockingly unattractive, bottom-feeding fish that have been given pretty but inaccurate names (Chilean sea bass). A sordid affair.

The article is about restoring ecosystems, and thankfully there is some positive news to report. There are a range of policy and technology options that could help bring fish stocks back to what is known as Multispecies Maximum Sustainable Yield: reducing the total allowable catch, imposing gear restrictions to avoid by-catch, creating marine preserves that are off-limits to fishing entirely, and buying out excess fishing capacity to reduce overall pressure on ecosystems, among others. The authors are clear that none of these work all the time, and rarely do any of these options succeed by themselves. In fact, these implementations require “that good local governance, enforcement, and compliance form the very basis for conservation and rebuilding efforts.” That seems like a self-evident statement, but across the world a lack of adequate government means a failure to curb and control overfishing.

Lack of government is not just a problem for Somalia, either. As the authors point out, “in the United States, where 67 overfished stocks have rebuilding plans, 45% of those were still being overfished in 2006, whereas only 3 stocks had been rebuilt at that time.” The sad truth is that there will be economic costs to reduced fishing in the short term; we can expect job losses in the fishing industry and fewer sales until stocks recover. The good news is that the ocean is a miraculously productive place. Its sheer enormity underlies its ability to provide food and well-being for hundreds of millions of people across the globe. With strong protections, the ocean’s bounty can be a vital and sustainable source of nutrition and pleasure for future generations.

Related posts in the Worldchanging archive:
Imagine A World Without Fish
Oceans Are the New Atmosphere
Sustainable Seafood

This piece originally appeared in The TerraPass Footprint.

Photo credit: Flickr/suneko.

Bookmark and Share


Comments

I think it is time that we should take action to protect our mother nature especially our fishes, that also serves as the primary source of living a lot of fisherman around the globe.


Posted by: Austin Solar Water Heater on 17 Sep 09

Post A Comment

Please note that comments will remain open for only 14 days after the article is posted. While previous comments will remain visible, attempts to post new comments after this period will fail. This helps stop comment spam, so your forebearance is appreciated.

The Worldchanging comments are meant to be used for further exploration and evaluation of the ideas covered in our posts. Please note that, while constructive disagreement is fine, insults and abuse are not, and will result in the comment being deleted and a likely ban from commenting. We will also delete at will and without warning comments we believe are designed to disrupt a conversation rather than contribute to it. In short, we'll kill troll posts.

Finally, please note that comments which simply repost copyrighted works or commercial messages will be summarily deleted.

REMEMBER PERSONAL INFO?
Yes No

NAME


EMAIL ADDRESS


URL


COMMENTS



EMAIL THIS ENTRY TO:

YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS:


MESSAGE (optional):


Search Worldchanging

Worldchanging Newsletter Get good news for a change —
Click here to sign up!


Worldchanging2.0


Website Design by Eben Design | Logo Design by Egg Hosting | Hosted by Amazon AWS | Problems with the site? Send email to tech /at/ worldchanging.com
©2012
Architecture for Humanity - all rights reserved except where otherwise indicated.

Find_us_on_facebook_badge.gif twitter-logo.jpg