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Overfishing and the World By Elizabeth Thomason
Overfishing and The world- 2 The Declining Fish Stock Problem The codfish were so thick in the water that “a boat could hardly be rowed through them.” So said explorer John Cabot in 1497 as he described one of the world’s richest fishing grounds— the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. By the late 1600’s, the annual catch of cod at Newfoundland had reached almost 100,000 metric tons. During the next century, the yield doubled. Today, however; the situation has changed dramatically. The codfish stock is now so depleted that in 1992 the Canadian government imposed its own ban on Atlantic cod fishing, leaving an estimated 35,000 people looking for work in other sectors. In 1997 the moratorium is still in effect. But where did all the codfish go? During the 1960’s, international fishing fleets converged on Newfoundland’s offshore banks to harvest huge quantities of cod. By 1968, trawlers from more than a dozen countries were taking 800,000 tons of fish a year from Newfoundland’s banks. This was three times the annual average catch for the previous century. While colder waters, the proliferation of seals, and the migration of codfish may also have played a part in the depletion of the codfish population, a large portion of blame for the cod disaster must be placed on human greed, or Over Fishing. What future is there for the Atlantic codfish as well as all the other fish that are being driven to extinction? Some doubt that there are enough young fish to mature, spawn, and replenish the species. For years man has fished the Ocean blue with the idea that “there are plenty of fish in the sea”. This thought has been challenged now for some time. While the price of fish is not the most important concern being addressed here rather it is the far reaching-environmental impact that poses the greatest threat. Fewer fish? The seas, we have believed, contain an unlimited supply of
Overfishing and The world- 3 edible fish. We are finding that some fish species are largely exhausted, fished out of the oceans (Berg & Hager, 2007). What has been responsible? Modern fishing vessels are like “floating factories” with their own canning and freezing equipment aboard, are able to handle and process more fish. Some have a storage capacity of over 10,000 gross tons. As Greenpeace says on their web site, “The ships are fitted out like giant floating factories - containing fish processing and packing plants, huge freezing systems, and powerful engines to drag enormous fishing gear through the ocean. Put simply: the fish don't stand a chance”. Special transport boats often bring in the catch for the fishing vessels, allowing them to remain at sea. The trawler’s greatest advantage thereby becomes its ability both to travel a long distance and to stay at sea for up to a year. Hundreds of such boats operate today out of the world’s key fishing spots. In some fishing waters, ranked as among the world’s best, are many modern trawlers, employed by the Soviet Union, Japan, Spain, Germany and other nations. Today, virtually all the species for which those waters are famous suffer from drastic over fishing. As the fish become scarcer and competition in obtaining available fish stiffens, ever-newer technology is pressed into service. One web site, MarineBio.org states that Japan is, “…providing US$2-3 billion annually. These subsidies are intended to support the fishing industry in these countries, however they do more harm than good with the increased capacity causing the overexploiting of commercial fish stocks and increasing the amount of waste due to bycatch” This shows another problem besides declining fish stocks, bycatch is the unintentional catching of other species that do not wind up being used but are killed unintentionally.
Overfishing and The world- 4 A Management and Sustainment Plan One commercial fisherman, Peter Dupuis, while commenting on the issue of over fishing, admits that, “We want to stay in business, we want a renewable resource” (Dupuis, as reported by Axia College’s online video). However, there does not exist a firm and resolved plan for reversing the effects of over fishing that all can agree on, as the video mentions, we need, “…a policy that strikes a balance between economic demands and environmental concerns”. Greenpeace, while quick to point out the problem of over fishing, is slow to help provide a sustainment plan. Greenpeace mentions that, “Instead of trying to find a long-term solution to these problems, the fishing industry's eyes are turning towards the Pacific - but this is not the answer. Politicians continue to ignore the advice of scientists about how these fisheries should be managed and the need to fish these threatened species in a sustainable way” It seems that Greenpeace would leave the job of guarding the hen house to the wolves; we cannot count on the fishing industry to lead the way in finding a long-term solution to overfishing. Perhaps Greenpeace could help by taking the lead in this regard, as they are recognized the world over as leaders in the environmental arena. The first and most influential step in this regard is to reach the end consumer, as over-fishing can be affected by people not wanting or having the need (aka demand) for fish. I went on a fishing trip several years ago on a chartered boat out of Bodega Bay, California and did not pay a fishing tax. Invoking something like this would help pay for research and development in the field of overfishing and so could an International Tax on imported fish, which might also curtail the demand for such. A more
Overfishing and The world- 5 encompassing world plan and perhaps faster method would be to, “establish no-take zones and marine reserves, areas where fishing is prohibited, to help replenish commercial fish stocks to secure long-term sustainability”. The web site also mentions that there are 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) or non-fishing-zones that were established around developing countries, but that foreign countries still negotiate with these developing countries to fish these zones. A strong solution to help the effects of over fishing would be to increase these zones to 300 miles around all countries, not just developing ones and to more strictly enforce these new laws, and keep much of Northern Atlantic closed to fishing as well. This plan would benefit the commercial fishing industry in that it would help provide a sustainable fish resource now and into the future. This plan would also provide for a much needed limit on fishable zones around the world and help the environmental movements while simply building on already established limits and laws affecting such. While commercial fishing would view any such attempts at creating tighter controls as diminishing their rights and complaining about their lively hood being affected as well, one important aspect could address such concerns. As mentioned, Japan already commits about two to three billion dollars a year to its fishing industry, and could (as well as all countries involved in commercial fishing) perhaps spend this money on subsidizing the industry, or even invest this or some of this money into domestic fish farming, a practice becoming more common here in the United States. While some Environmentalist may view the proposed ideas as not doing enough, perhaps they would be willing to invest in a Five year study conducted by a third party on the feasibility of such a proposal showing its long-term effects and benefits. Some environmentalist and marine scientist feel that implementing cuts in the areas that are being over fished may still take a long time to recover, if at all. In the report entitled, Shifts in
Overfishing and The world- 6 a Pacific Ocean Fish Assemblage: the Potential Influence of Exploitation by Levin et al, they reported, “Our results are disquieting because they raise the possibility that fishing-induced phase shifts in fish communities may affect the recovery of fishes, even after the implementation of severe fishing restrictions” (Levin et al, 2006). These findings should find us working even harder on the problem today. Jobs, Resources, and Lifestyles. As mentioned Government money would be needed to help subside any people who needed financial help do to their income being affected by addressing the problems of over fishing. Better than that would be to pass a Bond Measure that would raise money to invest more heavily into domestic fish farming, this would create jobs for those affected as mentioned and alleviate any concerns about suffering a loss of “lifestyle”. This act would help not only with financial concerns involved here but would help the future of sustainability of fishing. Perhaps maybe even 10 percent of farm raised fish could be released into rivers and the ocean, helping the issue to an even greater extent. Global Warming, the Ozone Layer and now over Fishing. All these environmental concerns were at one time not household names. With the persistence of those who care, over time that has changed. As we begin to realize that what we have, or have began to tax the earth’s resources; hopefully we can give back to our home and care for it before it becomes too late. A famous man, intensely interested in the Ocean said, “The road to the future leads us smack into the wall. We simply ricochet off the alternatives that destiny offers. Our survival is no more than a question of 25, 50 or perhaps 100 years” (Jacques Yves Cousteau). Hopefully, this will not be the case, if it becomes so; it will only be a reflection on, “Survival of the fittest”. References
Overfishing and The world- 7 Berg, L. R., & Hager, M. C. (2007). Visualizing environmental science. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. (2007). Declining fish stock. Retrieved November 18, 2007, from axiaecampus.phoenix.edu Website:https://axiaecampus.phoenix.edu/secure/aapd/axia/sci275/multimedia/video/decli nining_fish_stock.htm Levin, Phillip. E.E. Holmes, K.R. Piner, & C.J. Harvey (2006). Shifts in a Pacific Ocean Fish Assemblage: the Potential Influence of Exploitation. Retrieved December 2, 2007 from: Ebscohost Database, http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/ehost/detail?vid=5&hid=16&sid=16 76b62b-6103-4ec9-a811-135de362551a%40sessionmgr106 (2007). Overfishing. Retrieved December 1, 2007, from Greenpeace International Web site: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/oceans/overfishing (No Date). Quotes by Jacques Yves Cousteau. Retrieved November 18, 2007, from BrainyQuotes Web site: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/jacquesyve140726.html (2007, September 12). Sustainable Fisheries. Retrieved November 15, 2007, from MarineBio.org Website:http://www.marinebio.org/Oceans/Conservation/SustainableFisheries.asp?gclid= COWHhJrw5o8CFSDyYAod9TY0jQ
Overfishing and The world- 8 Berg, L. R., & Hager, M. C. (2007). Visualizing environmental science. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. (2007). Declining fish stock. Retrieved November 18, 2007, from axiaecampus.phoenix.edu Website:https://axiaecampus.phoenix.edu/secure/aapd/axia/sci275/multimedia/video/decli nining_fish_stock.htm Levin, Phillip. E.E. Holmes, K.R. Piner, & C.J. Harvey (2006). Shifts in a Pacific Ocean Fish Assemblage: the Potential Influence of Exploitation. Retrieved December 2, 2007 from: Ebscohost Database, http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/ehost/detail?vid=5&hid=16&sid=16 76b62b-6103-4ec9-a811-135de362551a%40sessionmgr106 (2007). Overfishing. Retrieved December 1, 2007, from Greenpeace International Web site: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/oceans/overfishing (No Date). Quotes by Jacques Yves Cousteau. Retrieved November 18, 2007, from BrainyQuotes Web site: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/jacquesyve140726.html (2007, September 12). Sustainable Fisheries. Retrieved November 15, 2007, from MarineBio.org Website:http://www.marinebio.org/Oceans/Conservation/SustainableFisheries.asp?gclid= COWHhJrw5o8CFSDyYAod9TY0jQ Levin, Phillip,. E.E. Holmes, K.R. Piner, & C.J. Harvey (2006). Shifts in a Pacific Ocean Fish Assemblage: the Potential Influence of Exploitation.