Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I came across a crazy article recently, about the problem of overfishing. It says fishing crews often accidentally catch large amounts of fish such as cod after exceeding their cod quotas (while they're looking for some other kind of fish). They then have "no option but to dump them..." even though the fish are dead.

Ministers are pushing for a quota increase to help solve the problem. But environmentalists have called for a change in practices, such as avoiding areas with large numbers of white fish.

Fish in places where there aren't very many fish... Huh?


Mark said...

Not really as crazy as it sounds... though it could have been written more clearly.

They aren't proposing to fish where there aren't many fish at all, just where there aren't many cod. The problem is they are catching everything in the area, then seeing what they can keep and trashing the rest. They could keep more of what they catch if they fish areas without cod (but presumably with other species).

Seems to me that the suggestion later in the article to use different equipment might be better. In other words, just catch what you are allowed to keep in the first place.

dad said...

Hi Dan: wow... you've got a smart brother; he said it all and said it well and right to the point.... those Physics guys are something, aren't they?.... do you get the impression he lives near Boston (and the ocean) and maybe knows something about fishing off the coast near Boston?

The Dan Ward said...

Mark is right, of course - the article does talk about fishing in places with fewer white fish, using better nets, etc. My title "Crazy" was intended to apply to the entire situation.

It just struck me as funny that the fishermen are accidentally catching too many cod, which is a problem because there aren't very many cod... and having caught & killed more than they're allowed, they feel compelled to dump the overage back into the ocean, rather than keep it, because somehow dumping them is better.

The comment that they "have no option but to dump" is particularly insane. Of course there are other options. Since we don't want to encourage the overfishing by allowing the fishing crews to keep & sell the overage, maybe they could donate the extra fish to the hungry.

There's always another option...

Mark said...

Good idea of donating to the hungry!

But I still see a practical issue here - suppose they are allowed to keep the "surplus" cod (surplus of a rare item... yeah, I guess that is crazy :) and bring it to shore but can only give it away (can't sell it).

I don't think any fishing boat will keep their holds full of stuff they can't sell. They'll dump it in a hearbeat to make room for profitable fish. And who would unload it, truck it, process it, etc - all for free?

Despite living near the North Shore of Boston, I'm no expert in the fishing industry. But my impression is these folks are just getting by as it is. Even the most charitable fisherman would not be willing to ruin their business (and send their own family to the soup kitchen) just so they could bring some "extra" fish to a shelter for free.

I share your enthusiasm for "another option", but this one doesn't seem very easy...