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Entries in fishing (4)


Saving bluefin - in one year?


A new website wants you to know how grim the situation has become for Atlantic bluefin.  It includes the stark statement that in all probability, the last bluefin will die in 2012, so we best get cracking on trying to save them.  Is it possible?  Certainly it will take a concerted effort from all nations that currently exploit this species, and a total dismantling of a subsidised tech-heavy industry.  To achieve that in just 12 months, well, forgive me if I wax pessimistic…

That aside, the video is nicely animated and quite information dense, touching on many aspects that plague modern fisheries management like the economies of extinction (when an exploited species becomes ever more valuable, the rarer it gets), tragedy of the commons , bycatch, subsidies and the wasteful nature of feeding cultured predatory fishes.  So, it’s worth your time, and if you live in an EU nation, it’s worth your contacting your country’s responsible ministry to ask what they are doing to help avoid the extinction of one of the oceans noblest creatures.  Finally, it’s worth rejecting bluefin at the market level (in sushi restaurants may be the best place) to help reduce demand. 

Maybe it’s already too late for bluefin, and that’s a tragedy, but the story doesn’t end there.  As we continue to fish down the food web, the crisis will move from bluefin to the next most threatened species and the cycle will reiterate until all that’s left is jellyfish and harmful algal blooms.  If that vision isn’t enough to inspire action, I don’t know what is.


No ban for Southern New England lobstering

In an earlier post I mentioned a proposal to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission by its lobster science committee to ban lobstering in Southern New England (i.e. south of Cape Cod) for 5 years to allow the fishery to recover.  Not surprisingly, that proposal has been rejected.  An alternative motion proposing that the commission "consider" either a 75% cut in allowable landings, or a 50% cut, or no cut at all, was approved.  Well hey, thats a nice clear path forward now, isnt it?

These events continue to highlight the tremendous complexity and difficulty of successfully managing modern fisheries.  Its easy to blame the committee for being indecisive, but the truth is that when you're faced with making decisions about someone's livelihood, and they start using phrases like "The moratorium was the bullet in a gun that was pointed to our head," and "A poison pill has been put in front of us", then making decisions purely on the science isn't so easy.  This, then, is annoying to the scientists who work hard to provide the best evidence possible to help make good decisions, only to see their data dismissed or disregarded because of more anthropocentric considerations.  Throw in a healthy dose of regulatory red tape and the poor managers just can't win.

I guess its one of those situations where when everyone is miserable, you probably made the best decision, but it may well mean the slow death of a long-troubled fishery (no matter how rosy picture the fishers want to portray).  One day I expect to look back at this post and fondly remember when we had a lobster fishery south of Cape Cod.  On that day, the shifting baseline strikes again.


Check out this crazy footage of silver carp!

I guess they don't like the electrofisher much...


FIS/MSC fail?

I got a chuckle out of this web news piece this morning, but not because of the story itself, which is a "good news" piece about the potential certification of two Atlantic tuna fisheries by the Marine Stewardship Council as being ecologically sound.  No, it was an adjacent link that made me laugh, to an op-ed piece undermining the MSC as a certificiation body.  Oops.  Anyway, the op-ed author makes some good points that perhaps the eco-certification process has become too politicised.  I don't know enough to judge, but still its pretty funny...