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Tilting at Windmills

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November 2, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

NO MORE FISH....A new study published in the journal Science reports that 29% of open sea fisheries are in a state of collapse and there's no end in sight:

Steve Palumbi, from Stanford University in California, one of the other scientists on the project, added: "Unless we fundamentally change the way we manage all the ocean species together, as working ecosystems, then this century is the last century of wild seafood."

A few months ago Mother Jones published a special issue called "The Last Days of the Ocean." Check it out if you want to learn more about this.

Kevin Drum 3:46 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (77)

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Comments

This was presumably a peer-reviewed study so I don't believe it. And it's in Science so I don't believe it. I don't believe in science. I have faith that Jesus will create as many fishes as we need.

Posted by: The Trolletariat on November 2, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Stanford is a hotbed of liberalism. They've bought into global warming, stem cell research, and now this.

We need scientists who put values ahead of their own partisan agenda.

Posted by: Al on November 2, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Unless we fundamentally change the way we manage all the ocean species together, as working ecosystems, then this century is the last century of wild seafood.

Who the hell wants "wild" seafood, anyway? It's full of mercury. G-D environazis.

Posted by: Jasper on November 2, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Christ, we're killing this poor planet of ours. Is there any hope?

Vote next Tuesday, I guess.

Posted by: Old Hat on November 2, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

The main problem is the use of drift nets & then what happens to the drift nets that are cut loose or snag & then keep on killing fish for probably 1000s of years. We are a sad species, in many respects...

Posted by: Paul in KY on November 2, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly, we need to lower taxes on fishing right away. That will make more fish.

Posted by: craigie on November 2, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

But only the oceans, right? I mean, it doesn't go any farther than that (???).

whew!

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on November 2, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Stanford, the home of the Hoover Institute, a hotbed of liberalism? Ha! Learn something about peer review, Al. Serious science is a "hotbed" of findings that conservatives don't like to think about.

Posted by: Emartin on November 2, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

I am glad to see science has caught up to my futurist extrapolations. I am sorry to see they are being verified.

Leftist: Stop eating wild fish. They are being over-fished.

Typical American consumer: Eat as much wild fish as possible before they are all gone.

Posted by: Hostile on November 2, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

But look at the bright side! If all the fish die off, there will be more ocean resources that will allow the plankton to prosper...and if the plankton prosper, there will be more whales to kill.

You libs can never see the silver lining...

Posted by: Proud Winger on November 2, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

It's not that difficult to just stop eating fish.

Posted by: KathyF on November 2, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Stanford did hire Thomas Sowell and Condi Rice. True they are right wingers, but they are colored wingers, right Al, ya putz?

Anyways, the way evolution and decay happens is not overnight. The Ocean won't be teaming with life one day, and then the next day half the fish die off at once, and we can swoop in to save them. In retardo world (Bush) it doesn't exist. But reality isn't his strong point.

Posted by: trifecta on November 2, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Paul in KY: The main problem is the use of drift nets & then what happens to the drift nets that are cut loose or snag & then keep on killing fish for probably 1000s of years.

I used to be a commericial fisherman. Drift nets are part of it; the most damage there is done by the ones that don't break free and that are used over and over again. But the biggest problem is more and more bigger and bigger factory ships (some of which use drift nets) that have better and better technology for finding and killing fish.

Add that to the tragedy of the commons, where fishermen want to get all the fish they can before somebody else gets them, and it's easy to see why they won't stop until they are required to stop by law.

Even so, even if all the big fishing countries prohibit the more devastating kinds of fishing, fleets will just re-register in Liberia or Panama or Vanuatu and keep fishing. When we limited tuna fishing in the US, the tuna fleet that used to be based in San Diego just moved to the western Pacific.

It will take leadership (Hah!) by the US and other nations to shut down the fleets for a while, but I don't think it will happen. For one thing, it would destroy a big industry, which would have to be recompensed. For another thing, the protein source would have to be replaced. I have no faith in our government or in fishermen to solve the problem. Get used to farmed fish, with all the problems that mono-cultures bring.

As a side note, I read recently that 20% of all wild-caught seafood goes to feed farmed fish.

Posted by: anandine on November 2, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Stanford is a hotbed of liberalism.

ROTFLMAO. That was one of Al's best parody's of the right wingnuts yet.

Posted by: Edo on November 2, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus will create as many fishes as we need.

Loaves, too, I hear!

Posted by: David in NY on November 2, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

THE MARKET PLACE WILL SOLVE THIS PROBLEM.

JUST LIKE IT WILL SOLVE ALL OUR PROBLEMS.

Posted by: OYSTER BREATH on November 2, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Yum yum. And this is a problem how?

Posted by: Mrs. Paul on November 2, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Not to burst your overinflated bubble, Al, but a well-known liberal named Condoleeza Rice was formerly the provost at Stanford.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on November 2, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

As I recall from Jared Diamond's Collapse, some fisheries have gone into decline, been regulated, and come back. But is does take concerted action of the kind we only seem to be able to invoke to foment wars. Here's hoping we do better.

I do notice an upward blip in Kevin's curve just before 2000 (concidence or not?) followed by a return to the downward trend. Anyone know why?

Posted by: David in NY on November 2, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

we only need like five species of fish anyway.

Posted by: cleek on November 2, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

It's not that difficult to just stop eating fish.

Tell that to Starkist. Or Red Lobster.

Posted by: Wonderin on November 2, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Let me make one thing clear. It is vastly important that we correctly manage our oceans. It takes a long time for a fish population to recover. ( Read Kurlanky's "Cod" for an interesting story in this). I am all for international efforts to encourage the private companies to make sensible use of this resource so that it may be available for all time.

OTOH - From my reading of the BBC report I conclude that that this is the type of graph that should make all true scientists loathe the stupidity that passes for science today. The fact that the graph appeared in Science is all the more reason for alarm.

I admit I have not taken the time to read the original paper. If somebody can show the authors have appropriate population modelling that predicts the "extrapolated long-term trend", I would be glad to be corrected. However, if this were the case the dotted line should be labelled "model predictions" instead of "Extrapolated long-term trend".

Taking a curve and fitting a mathematical equation to it - ( Wow it looks like they might have even used a second degree equation instead of just linear extrapolation ) - is not modelling. It is part of the stupidity that makes people make ignorant predictions such as ...

We will run out of... ( pick your favorite resource oil, trees, fish, coal, natural gas ) by ( insert alarming year here ).

These predictions have consistently failed to materialize because of the misunderstanding of nonlinear processes which greatly effect real world situations in the long term.

I remember one of the stupidest "linear extrapolations" that I had ever seen.

When I was at UCLA someone published in a UCLA publication ( not a scientific one ) a graph of the winning time of the men's and women's olympic marathons for the past years with a "extrapolated future results". The stupid headline read something to the effect that trends indicated that by the year 2030 (or so ) the women should overtake the men in marathon running. My office mate responed with a letter somehting like his "..further extrpolation of the data indicated that by the year 300562 the winner of the women's marathon would be running at a significant fraction of the speed of light."

Publication of bad results like this ignorant extrapolation that 100% of fish might be wiped out in 50 years get published because of their claims which match someone's politiacl agenda. Shame on the people who brought a poor paper to the public's attention. True scientific effort rarely ever gets published in popular media because its results are typically much more benign.

This type of reporting of "scientific" results only increases the correct scepticism some have to the environmental extremists wakcy claims.

Posted by: John Hansen on November 2, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly, we need to lower taxes on fishing right away. That will make more fish.

For a proper dynamically scored analysis you'd also have to consider that reduction of the death tax will cause a huge increase in mortality, lowering demand for fish.

Posted by: anon on November 2, 2006 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Concerned readers can check out this site, which lists which fish you should and should not choose:
http://www.mbayaq.org/cr/seafoodwatch.asp

There are some fishing areas, notably the Alaskan salmon fishery, that are being managed responsibly.

Posted by: Happy Dog on November 2, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

This type of reporting of "scientific" results only increases the correct scepticism some have to the environmental extremists wakcy claims.

interesting tirade from someone who admits that he didnt bother to read the paper. Talk about skipping your homework! But I guess that he is auditioning for a position in the Bush Administration.

Posted by: troglodyte on November 2, 2006 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly, we need to lower taxes on fishing right away. That will make more fish.
Posted by: craigie on November 2, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Screw that!

We need a Fish Czar, who will craft a National Fishing Policy, to create a new cabinet-level organization that oversees and consolidates the Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife department, and US Geological Survey. We can call it The Department of Homeland Fishing. One of it's primary goals will be to funnel billions in tax credits and subsidies to the leaders of the fishing industry, to ensure that it continues to grow, build more and larger fishing boats, and invest in finding new sources of fish. Estimates by scientists at the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute show that we've only fished less than 1% of the world's oceans, and that our Fish supply will be good for another 100 years. These Stanford Scientists should be investigated for their past membership in the Communist Party as well.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on November 2, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

troglodye - do you mean you think the graph is good science?

Posted by: John Hansen on November 2, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Stanford is a hotbed of liberalism.Posted by: Al

Ya! Especially at the Hoover Institute.

Posted by: JeffII on November 2, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

The BBC graph does not appear in the paper or in the supplementary materials. It may be production of the BBC. It seems to be a simplified projection of Fig 3A which models the trend since 1950 and ends just beyond 2000 . It seems to be pretty standard and the authors dont make rash predictions about the shape of the curve in the future. But the trend is clear. I will have to read it in detail.

For regular readers of Nature and Science this comes as no surprise. Hardly a month has gone by in the last ten years without a paper on coral reef decline, species loss, habitat destruction, overfishing, water quality degredation and the effects of global warming on all these.

Posted by: bellumregio on November 2, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

troglodye - do you mean you think the graph is good science?

John Hansen - are you suggesting that if the people who constructed the graph (we don't know if they're the same people as the authors of the study) simply re-label the trend line as "model predictions," that will be "good science" for you?

Why not read the study first before commenting on the particular modeling techniques used by the authors?

Posted by: Wonderin on November 2, 2006 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

When Harry Harrison helped adapt his mid-sixties overpopulation novel Make Room, Make Room for the big screen, he made it an environmental thriller.

The lead character, a NYC detective investigating the murder of a food processing company executive, finds a confidential company research report. It turns out that the ocean ecosystems have collapsed. The krill are all gone.

In the film's thrilling final scene, the detective gets the word out, shouting "The oceans are dying!"

Oh, yeah, he also shouts "Soylent Green is people!" Too bad that's the line everyone remembers.

Posted by: Stefan Jones on November 2, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

The BBC graph does not appear in the paper or in the supplementary materials.

bellumrgio - Thanks for clarifying this. I am glad that a Stanford researcher did not put in something so stupid. I was fooled because the BBC report said its source was the article in Science. I just assumed the whole graph had come from the article including the weird extrapolation.

Wonderin - No. The labeling of the graph as "model predictions" would have meant that the authors have some scientific model based on observations that produced the curve. Ethical scientists do not label simple "extrapolations" as "Model predictions". If they put "model predictions" and had in fact only made an extrapolation - they would not only be doing bad science they would also be unethical.

Posted by: John Hansen on November 2, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

anandine: Even so, even if all the big fishing countries prohibit the more devastating kinds of fishing, fleets will just re-register in Liberia or Panama or Vanuatu and keep fishing.

True. So the only real answer is to prohibit the sale of fish in the US and other big fish markets that are caught in unacceptable ways or quantities.

For one thing, it would destroy a big industry, which would have to be recompensed.

We'll compensate them just as soon as we compensate the losers from "free" trade.

It's not clear that it would destroy a big industry in the sense of employment. As a former commercial fisherman you may be able to shed some light here. Are there less destructive but more labor intensive ways to fish?

Get used to farmed fish, with all the problems that mono-cultures bring. As a side note, I read recently that 20% of all wild-caught seafood goes to feed farmed fish.

Yeah, that's the problem with many varieties of farmed fish. Many of the desireable ones (salmon, shrimp, etc.) are carnivorous. IIRC it takes several pounds of wild caught fish to make one pound of these farmed fish.

OTOH some fresh water varieties are herbivorous and pose no such problem, eg catfish and tilapia. Also lower in mercury.

P.S. Mother Jones also had a good article a while back on the decline of menhadden along the eastern US and Canada. Low commercial value but easy to catch. Many states have banned this, but not some southern ones. Menhadden are filter feeders and their decline is part of the reason Chesapeake Bay is getting clogged up. There also what many tasty species feed on, so lead to their decline too.

Posted by: alex on November 2, 2006 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Al: We need scientists who put values ahead of their own partisan agenda.

In other words, Al, we need priests... Good thinking.

Posted by: stiffmittens on November 2, 2006 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Why do the fish hate America? Don't they know if we eat less fish, the terrorists have won? If we don't overfish them over there, we'll have to fish them over here! Anyway, it's Clinton's fault.

Posted by: i repulse even myself on November 2, 2006 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

"But look at the bright side! If all the fish die off there will be more ocean resources that allow the plankton to prosper...and if the plankton prosper there will be more whales to kill."

I know that this was meant to be a sarcastic comment, but the problem is that the seafood species that are being talked about here, such as tuna, are piscivores (fish eaters) rather than planktivores (plankton eaters). If the fish eaters disapear, then there will be no control on the plankton eaters (which the fish eaters eat) which will then be free to reproduce and eat as much plankton as they can, taking the nutrients with them when they die and sink to the bottom of the ocean. So there will be no surface nutrients left to grow the next generation of plankton, leading to a crash in the plankton population. Pretty soon the lack of plankton will lead to a lack of oxygen production from the oceans because plankton are photosynthetic (at least the phytoplankton are). And a lot of worldwide oxygen production takes place in the oceans. It's called top-down control of an ecosystem.

Posted by: spongebob on November 2, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

The menhaden (correct spelling) article is in the same issue Kevin linked to.

http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2006/03/net_losses.html

Posted by: alex on November 2, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Wonderin -

As to -

Why not read the study first before commenting on the particular modeling techniques used by the authors?

I have limited time. I must choose what I read carefully. Anybody who extrapolates a curve like the one in question down to the value zero has clearly not spent any time doing any serious modelling efforts. The study may be worth reading for its proper recommendations on guarding biodiversity. A look at the author's past publications show he is a serious researcher. What I was objecting to is the extrpolated long term trend. The chances of it being based on real science is almost nil.

Posted by: John Hansen on November 2, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Alex: So the only real answer is to prohibit the sale of fish in the US and other big fish markets that are caught in unacceptable ways or quantities.

True. Now all we have to do is get the federal government to accept the science and cooperate with Europe and Asia, and get them to cooperate, too. And pigs will fly.

We'll compensate (the destroyed fishing industry) just as soon as we compensate the losers from "free" trade.

See above about pigs flying.

Are there less destructive but more labor intensive ways to fish?

Yes, but not that are cost effective. We could fish with poles, but cod would be $100 a pound. The big point is we need to kill fewer fish, including incidental catch. The only way to do it is to put a bunch of people out of business. This would probably be a good thing for us as a whole but really bad for those who are put out of business. Of course, they're going to be put out of business soon anyway, when the stocks completely collapse.


Posted by: anandine on November 2, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

The abstract:

Human-dominated marine ecosystems are experiencing accelerating loss of populations and species, with largely unknown consequences. We analyzed local experiments, long-term regional time series, and global fisheries data to test how biodiversity loss affects marine ecosystem services across temporal and spatial scales. Overall, rates of resource collapse increased and recovery potential, stability, and water quality decreased exponentially with declining diversity. Restoration of biodiversity, in contrast, increased productivity fourfold and decreased variability by 21%, on average. We conclude that marine biodiversity loss is increasingly impairing the ocean's capacity to provide food, maintain water quality, and recover from perturbations. Yet available data suggest that at this point, these trends are still reversible.

Posted by: bellumregio on November 2, 2006 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

It already has happened. How many of you remember eating tilapia as kids? What happened to all those cods and abalones?

Posted by: clone12 on November 2, 2006 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

What I'm worried about is after 2050, when MORE than 100% of seafood species will have disappeared.

Posted by: Common Knowledge on November 2, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Yet available data suggest that at this point, these trends are still reversible.

This is an important conclusion and one that is befitting a scholarly report. Unfortunately it just does not attract much press. Shame on the BBC editor who felt he had to make the story more interesting by extrapolation.

Posted by: John Hansen on November 2, 2006 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

"President Bush established the largest conservation area and the largest protected marine area in the world in Hawaii on June 15.

The name of this area is The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument. This area is different not only for its size but its unique ecosystem. One quarter of the species there are not found anywhere else. The archipelago stretches almost 2,600 kilometers across the central Pacific Ocean and is home to more than 7,000 marine species. It is also the largest and healthiest coral-reef system in the United States."

Posted by: Neil S on November 2, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

KathyF writes: "It's not that difficult to just stop eating fish."

It is if you want to maintain an optimal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, but why worry? I'm sure Jeebus will return and save the elect before we run out of fish oil.

Posted by: s9 on November 2, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder what would happen to that curve if the increasing acidity of the oceans were factored in.

Posted by: kenga on November 2, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

The BBC does a far better job of raising public awareness about the decline of biodiversity than just about any news agency in the world. An alarmist tone is appropriate in general since the world is witnessing the greatest decline in species since the dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago. And it is the direct result of human activity, particularly habitat destruction. This report is a meta-analysis that captures a small part of the monstrous epochal trend. There are other sinners, like global warming deniers, far more worthy of castigation.

Posted by: bellumregio on November 2, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

My girlfriend is a Newfoundlander, and just by chance we had a conversation last night about the closing of the Newfoundland fisheries by the Canadian federal government in 1993. Local fishermen had sustained the Banks for hundreds of years, but after Newfoundland joined Canada in the fifties the federal government took over and, within a generation, had destroyed them due to allowing overfishing by foreign trawlers. In the Nineties Ottawa suddenly realized what was going on and, in literally one day, closed the fishery.

It was a devastating blow for the Rock -- tens of thousands of fishermen thrown out of the work that their families had been doing since before anyone could remember. The song "Fisherman's Lament" by the band Great Big Sea expresses quite starkly the feeling of the fishermen about that time:

I fished with my father, so long long ago
We were proud of our trade, and in us it did show
We held our heads high, there was lots of fish then
That was the time, when we were proud men....

My father is gone now, and the fish are gone too.
Abused and mis-managed, oh what can we do?
I'm too old to change, but what of my sons,
How will they know that we weren't the ones?

DFO regulations permitted the rape
Of our beautiful ocean, from headland to cape
They brought in big trawlers, they tore up our twine
Politicians don't care for what's yours or what's mine!

...And I spent my whole life, out there on the sea
Some government bastard now takes it from me
It's not just the fish, they've taken my pride
I feel so ashamed that I just want to die.

Posted by: Stefan on November 2, 2006 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

bellumregio said:

The BBC does a far better job of raising public awareness about the decline of biodiversity than just about any news agency in the world. An alarmist tone is appropriate in general since the world is witnessing the greatest decline in species since the dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago. And it is the direct result of human activity, particularly habitat destruction. This report is a meta-analysis that captures a small part of the monstrous epochal trend. There are other sinners, like global warming deniers, far more worthy of castigation.

Except for "..the boy who cried wolf.." effect. If a real environmental disaster happens in our lifetime the people who kept bringing forth spectacular but unfulfilled predictions of environmental collapse will be just as guilty as the deniers.

Posted by: John Hansen on November 2, 2006 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

Except for "..the boy who cried wolf.." effect. If a real environmental disaster happens in our lifetime the people who kept bringing forth spectacular but unfulfilled predictions of environmental collapse will be just as guilty as the deniers.
Posted by: John Hansen on November 2, 2006 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

Hear hear!

When we really DO see a Mushroom Cloud over New York City - we can blame Condoleeza Rice!

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on November 2, 2006 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

But as the late Rep Helen Chenoweth of Idaho said, "Why should we protect salmon, when I can buy it in cans at the supermarket?"

Posted by: thethirdPaul on November 2, 2006 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

If a real environmental disaster happens in our lifetime

Real environmental disasters are happening right now. Disappearing rainforest, increasing worldwide water shortages and desertification, melting permafrost -- and collapsing fish stocks.

of environmental collapse the people who kept bringing forth spectacular but unfulfilled predictions

Such as? Most of the predictions are for decades out. Further, environmental decline is now happening in many areas much faster than predicted.

will be just as guilty as the deniers.

No they won't. Those trying to warn the world, trying to get people to alter their behaviors and government their policies by definition will not be "as guilty."

Posted by: Windhorse on November 2, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Why do fish hate America?

Posted by: ugga bugga on November 2, 2006 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Fish are a strategic resource, and we cannot let the Islamofascists control fish. So, as Congress clearly authorized in 1823, when it voted to honor National Hygiene Day, we are invading Wisconsin.

Anyone who disagrees, is a treasonous traitor who hates the troops and wants America to lose the War on Fish. Er, War For Fish. Some damn war, anyway.

Posted by: craigie on November 2, 2006 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen:

Just has a quick read through the paper and while it is correct that the graph does not appear in the paper they do actually predict the extrapolation as given in the graph.

However it is imporant to note that what the graph shows is collapse of a stock, not extinction. I would tend to agree that a graph that extrapolates to extinction is silly (similar to your earlier comment about runners), but a collapse is a much different scenario.

Posted by: Yelling in the fog on November 2, 2006 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

Sing the fish song.

"Where have all the fishies gone?"

"Long long time ago?"

"Where have all the fishies gone?"

"Caught in fishing nets nearly every one."

"Where have all the fishies gone?"

"Died away what was left of them."

"Oh, When will they ever learn."

"When will they ever learn."

Posted by: James on November 2, 2006 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

I always thought there was something fishy about the GOP...

Posted by: craigie on November 2, 2006 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

Publication of bad results like this ignorant extrapolation that 100% of fish might be wiped out in 50 years get published because of their claims which match someone's politiacl agenda.

Yeah, what he said.

Or not.

Posted by: The Last Carrier Pigeon on November 2, 2006 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

Dear John Hansen,

Don't worry, nothing can go wrong.

Because if something could go wrong, then it would be very upsetting for us all. And we all know that we don't like getting upset. So we won't. Get upset.

And that is why nothing can go wrong.

Posted by: obscure on November 2, 2006 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

i need to go and recover the contents of my back-up harddrive. i have been writing about this topic of the world's fisheries for some time, now.

but,until i get to my warehouse for my backup drives, here is a bibliography that i think is essential. it excludes mark kurlansky's cod, but i assume that all you posters know that history.

1. THE PLUNDERED SEAS: CAN THE WORLD'S FISH BE SAVED. isbn#0871569450

2. TSUKIJI: THE FISH MARKET AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD. isbn#0520220234

3. OCEAN BANKRUPTCY: WORLD FISHERIES ON THE BRINK OF DISASTER.
isbn#1585747947

4. GIANT BLUEFIN. isbn#0865474974

5. FISH, MARKETS, AND FISHERMAN: THE ECONOMICS OF OVERFISHING.
isbn#1559636432

Posted by: albertchampion on November 2, 2006 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

This was presumably a peer-reviewed study so I don't believe it. And it's in Science so I don't believe it. I don't believe in science. I have faith that Jesus will create as many fishes as we need.

Right, like liberals don't eat seafood. Nice try guys, but this isn't one you can blame on the Republicans.

Posted by: Fair's fair on November 2, 2006 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

who cares about the extrapolation... look at where the number is right now. we're killing em pretty f'n quickly right now

too bad they're so delicious.

Posted by: cleek on November 2, 2006 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

More and more people are eating more and more fish. The news is filled with dieticians advocating more fish in the diet. Billions of people eating fish creates an almost unstoppable market force that is destroying the world's fisheries. Probably not almost.

A similar graph for forests would probably look the same or worse.

Posted by: Hostile on November 2, 2006 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: sd on November 3, 2006 at 12:12 AM | PERMALINK

About 15 years ago or so I had a nightmare one night that scared and depressed the heck out of me. It was about the future. Now I know it was just a dream but it has haunted my thoughts since.

Anyway, it was the future, it was night and I was flying over these huge skyscrapers. I could see lights on in them. Then as I looked out I realized that the whole world was covered in them, the the whole world had become one big merged city and that all wild lands and wild animals had disappeared. Only people were left there. Then I flew over the ocean. Looking down I saw that the oceans had these massive black "dead zones" in them and that they too were growing and merging. Whatever bit of life remained was being crowded into a few remaining life zones. I flew over a dead zone and there was nothing alive in it. It was also full of accumulated synthetic chemicals.

I was so sad after that dream, to think that a world once so wonderous and beautiful was now so artificial and ugly. It looks like it's only a matter of time before my nightmare is a reality.

That is the future I fear.

----

Then: French explorer Pierre Esprit Radisson c1652 in the description of his journey (of what would later become the United States): "The further we sojourned the delightfuller the land was to us. I can say that in my lifetime I never saw a more incomparable country....The country was so pleasant, so beautiful and fruitful that it grieved me to see the world could not discover such enticing countries to live in. This I say because the europeans fight for a rock in the sea against each other, or for a sterile and horrid country. Contrariwise, these kingdoms are so delicious and under so temperate a climate, plentiful of all things, the earth bringing forth its fruit twice a year, the people live long and lusty and wise in their way."

Now: "We are predicting the extinction of about two-thirds of all bird, mammal, butterfly and plant species by the end of the next century, based on current trends." --Peter H. Raven (1999), former President of AAAS, the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=The_Sixth_Great_Extinction

Posted by: the future on November 3, 2006 at 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

I've been watching this all my life and it is gut wrenching. As anandine pointed out, the basic problem is the problem of the commons. In areas where single groups control a resource there is some hope. In the open oceans there is no such control.

Posted by: JohnK on November 3, 2006 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

YES, YOU CAN BLAME IT ON THE REPUBLICANS.

and the democrats, as well.

do try and pay attention. stephen sloan, a lifelong reptillian, wrote OCEANS BANKRUPTCY.

this extraordinary book was the result of sloan's involvment in the global fisheries' management as a bush appointee.

i could say so much more about steve sloan.suffice it to say, he was a man of exquisite honor. of real caring.

but read the book. find out for yourself how the fisheries are managed.

Posted by: albertchampion on November 3, 2006 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

i'm the decider...but can't make up my mind...


perch or bass?

Posted by: G.W.B. on November 3, 2006 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

then...i have to decide between reel or fly...

this sure is hard work...

Posted by: G.W.B. on November 3, 2006 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

"All told, pelagic longlines are the most widely used fishing gear on earth, and are deployed in all the oceans except the circum-polar seas. But whereas they once caught 10 fish per 100 hooks set, today they are lucky to catch one, evidence the seas are running dry. Abetting their destructiveness are the trawl fisheries, which drag nets across every square inch of the bottom of the continental shelves every two years, trawling some regions many times a season. By razing vital benthic (seafloor) ecosystems, trawlersthe brutal equivalent of fishing the seafloor with bulldozerslevel an area 150 times larger than the total area of forests clearcut on land each year.

Adding to longlines and trawlers is the technology of drift nets, the nearly invisible curtains of monofilament blindsiding the life of the ocean. In the North Atlantic, shark and monkfish nets up to 150 miles long are set 1,600 feet below the surface, then left untended to sail and randomly ensnare life. In the course of operations in stormy seas, many nets are lost or abandonedthough they continue to fill with prey, which attracts predators, which likewise become trapped, die, and decay, attracting more predators. Composed of nonbiodegradable synthetics, deepwater ghostnets fish with nightmarish efficiency for years."
- The Fate of the Ocean - Julia Whitty

"It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge." - Enrico Fermi

Posted by: CFShep on November 3, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

Does this mean it is not a good time to open a Red Lobster franchise? Just asking...

Posted by: Neil Bush on November 3, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

The bottom line is that human activities are degrading and destroying the capacity of the Earth to support life. This is the only conclusion that can be drawn from not only this study and other recent similar studies, but from the United Nations Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and all the science on the effects of global warming. It's as simple, as stark, and as terrifying as that.

I think that of all scientists, James Lovelock seems to see this most clearly, probably because of his deep understanding of the Earth's biosphere as a wholistic, integrated, self-regulating system ("Gaia"), whereas other scientists seem to see only isolated parts of the big picture. Lovelock grasps the synergistic effects of all the various sorts of damage we are doing to the planet. That's why his vision of humanity's future, and the future of life on Earth, is so grim.

We humans have at most a decade to make massive, far-reaching changes in the most fundamental ways we "make a living" on Earth -- energy production, agriculture, forestry, mining, fishing, etc. -- to "live within our means" and make human civilization sustainable by solar energy and the biological productivity of the planet, or global ecological catastrophe will become irreversible and unpreventable, and human civilization will not survive this century.

And humanity's demise will be hideous and cruel -- billions of people dying from lack of water, starvation, drought, floods, disease and war -- taking down much of the rich diverse life of the Earth's biosphere with it.

My expectation is that we will not make the necessary changes in time.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on November 3, 2006 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

My expectation is that we will not make the necessary changes in time.
Posted by: SecularAnimist

Whereas I'm convinced that the clock's already run out...I'm truly glad I won't be around to see what kind of world survives our depredations.

It won't be pretty.

Posted by: CFShep on November 3, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Whereas I'm convinced that the clock's already run out...I'm truly glad I won't be around to see what kind of world survives our depredations.

It won't be pretty.

Yeah, but I have kids, and I kinda resent leaving them such a @#$%^&*!ed-up planet.

Posted by: Gregory on November 3, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Here are a few facts that should be mentioned:

1. While many farmed fish are fed from feed that uses wild fish as a protein source, so do cows, chickens, dogs, and cats. In fact, farmed fish grow more efficiently on that protein than do cows or chickens (i.e. lower food conversion ratio).

2. The US does not have a robust aquaculture industry. Our deficit in imports of seafood from foreign countries is second only the oil in the US. Many of these imports come from countries like China, Vietnam, and Thailand which are severely lacking in workers rights, treatment of women, and often still use chemical such as DDT which are showing up in their seafood products.

3. Aquaculture has not been successful in the US because of the high cost of land in coastal areas and because of strict zero impact environmental regulations that frequently change and require retrofitting of infrastructure to accommodate new technology.

4. MPAs (marine protected areas) are the newest fad of fisheries managers. Their idea of ecosystem management is to ban everything. Unfortunately, there is limited evidence of the success of this plan. The Grand Banks has been restricted for a decade and still the cod have not returned. This technique has proven most successful with animals like conch which have limited mobility.

5. Science and Nature have always printed alarmist articles. I recall reading an article recently about the looming demise of the shark population. Such articles sell magazines and must attract grant funding for the authors, but they are always wrong. Look up the articles from 1976 about the coming Ice Age.

Posted by: Just Karl on November 3, 2006 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: 手机图片 on November 4, 2006 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

as long we not understand that a maximun of 1 child per family is the only way to help the world survive for the future, then it will go this way.
the polution, global growth etc - is made by our self - because we get more and more people....it will end in the end.

Posted by: John on November 4, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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