Posted on January 24, 2008  Comments (4)

Until All the Fish Are Gone

Scientists have been warning for years that overfishing is degrading the health of the oceans and destroying the fish species on which much of humanity depends for jobs and food. Even so, it would be hard to frame the problem more dramatically than two recent articles in The Times detailing the disastrous environmental, economic and human consequences of often illegal industrial fishing.

Sharon LaFraniere showed how mechanized fishing fleets from the European Union and nations like China and Russia – usually with the complicity of local governments – have nearly picked clean the oceans off Senegal and other northwest African countries. This has ruined coastal economies and added to the surge of suddenly unemployed migrants who brave the high seas in wooden boats seeking a new life in Europe, where they are often not welcome.

The second article, by Elisabeth Rosenthal, focused on Europe’s insatiable appetite for fish – it is now the world’s largest consumer. Having overfished its own waters of popular species like tuna, swordfish and cod, Europe now imports 60 percent of what it consumes. Of that, up to half is contraband, fish caught and shipped in violation of government quotas and treaties.

I have mentioned the very serious problem of over-fishing the oceans:

The measured effects today should be enough for sensible people to realise the tragedy of the commons applies to fishing and obviously governments need to regulate the fishing to assure that fishing is sustainable. This is a serious problem exacerbated by scientific and economic illiteracy. The obvious scientific and economic solution is regulation. Determining the best regulation is tricky (and political and scientific and economic) but obviously regulation (and enforcement) is the answer.

Sadly this selfish consuming now and passing the problem to those who follow is common lately: Tax Our Children and Grandchildren Instead of Us. Remember when parents actually wanted to leave the world better off for children? What a quaint old idea.

Related: South Pacific to Stop Bottom-trawlingAltered Oceans: the Crisis at SeaOverfishing

4 Responses to “SelFISHing”

  1. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Running Out of Fish
    May 11th, 2008 @ 8:24 am

    “Ninety years of industrial-scale exploitation of fish has, he and most scientists agree, led to ‘ecological meltdown’. Whole biological food chains have been destroyed…”

  2. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » European Eels in Crisis After 95% Decline in Last 25 years
    May 5th, 2009 @ 8:19 am

    […] seems pretty obvious we have over-fished the oceans. Without effective regulation we will destroy the future of both the wildlife and our food […]

  3. Anonymous
    December 8th, 2010 @ 11:48 pm

    Its an absolute tragedy the way we treat our oceans. I understand all the economic drivers. I understand how difficult it is. But my gosh people must have their head in the sand and their hands in deep pockets if they can’t see we’re trashing the oceans. I hope my kids can still go fishing when they get older. And I hope we can continue to enjoy seafood too. For now I’m off to catch my dinner in the sea on my little rod.

  4. Add Over-Fishing to the Huge Government Debt as Examples of How We Are Consuming Beyond Our Means » Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
    October 5th, 2012 @ 2:18 am

    The normal pattern has been to turn to more aggressive fishing methods and new technology to try and collect fish as over-fishing devastates yields. This, of course, further devastates the state of the resources and makes it so recovery will take much much longer (decades – or more)…

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