DSCC News

Fishing more, catching less

26 March 2014

Source: New York Times

Author: Daniel Pauly

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Some 120 years ago, fleets of trawlers, each with a crew of dozens, would steam into the open sea, having depleted the coastal fishing grounds around the British Isles. They caught several tons a day, mostly big fish — cod measuring one and half meters, huge flatfish of 3 meters, and many more. Today, vessels plying the North Atlantic catch a few kilograms of small fish — cod just 30 centimeters long and tiny flatfish.

Consumers, though, are hardly aware of these changes — because nowadays it is a smaller number of more powerful, modern vessels, with crews of two or three, that bring fish to local ports, though in smaller quantities than those that trawled the North Atlantic over a century ago. Meanwhile, larger, immensely more powerful vessels range farther afield in the richer fishing grounds off West Africa, South America and in the Pacific.

Most seafood served in Europe and North America comes from the waters of the global South, whose small-scale fishermen cannot compete with the industrial fleets seeking what they can no longer catch, or are not permitted to catch, in northern waters. Though Western governments, particularly the United States, are working to conserve and replenish their fishing grounds, the worldwide depletion of fish stocks continues apace.

We are trying slowly to repair the mess we’ve made of our Northern fisheries, but we are doing this by transferring the problem, trying to solve overfishing in one place while worsening the problem somewhere else.

For more, go to: www.nytimes.com/2014/03/27/opinion/fishing-more-catching-less.html