Saturday, June 25, 2011

Atlantic fish stocks in 1900 and 2000

Plenty More Fish In The Sea?
What were the oceans like before over-fishing?

The Guardian: This image shows the biomass of popularly-eaten fish in the North Atlantic Ocean in 1900 and in 2000. Popularly eaten fish include bluefin tuna, cod, haddock, hake, halibut, herring, mackerel, pollock, salmon, sea trout, striped bass, sturgeon, turbot. Many of which are now vulnerable or endangered.

Dr. Villy Chistensen and his colleagues at the University of British Columbia used ecosystem models, underwater terrain maps, fish catch records and statistical analysis to render the biomass of Atlantic fish at various points this century (see the study here)... Professor Callum Roberts' harrowing book, The Unnatural History of the Sea... uses historical accounts of the ocean to depict the sheer fecundity of the sea in the times before industrialized fishing...

Each generation views the environment they remember from their youth as 'natural' and normal. Today that means our fishing policies and environmental activism is geared to restoring the oceans to the state we remember they were. That's considered the environmental baseline... This is a kind of collective social amnesia that allows over-exploitation to creep up and increase decade-by-decade.
Image source here.