Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Billion-Dollar Fish

Enlightening interview with Kevin M. Bailey, author of the new book Billion-Dollar Fish: The Untold Story of Alaska Pollock:

We Should Stop "Engineering" Nature:

Ocean communities are complex. The fates of species are braided with feedback systems, complicated interactions, and co-dependencies. We don’t understand much about marine fishes because our ability to observe what really goes on in the ocean is limited, and because the lives of fishes are so foreign to our own existence. An incomplete understanding is not a good foundation for engineering solutions. 

Salmon hatcheries on the West Coast proliferated. The fish releases are one of the major causes of declines in native salmon runs. Often engineering is not the solution, it becomes the problem.

In 1976, the North Pacific Management Council was empowered to put a 2-million ton annual cap on removals of all groundfish from the eastern Bering Sea. This rule put management of the pollock fishery in the context of the ecosystem. Now there is a movement to remove this limit. Without the cap on the total removal of groundfish, harvests from the Bering Sea could likely be doubled by fishing each species to its sustainable limit, worth another billion dollars to the industry. The refrain of “more jobs and more fish for a hungry world” plays like a broken record. This action would profit a few companies in the short term. In the long term it would be unwise and pose an unacceptable risk to the Bering Sea ecosystem and the public resource.

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