In 1992, the Canadian government shut down the fishing industry in Newfoundland for 10 years in hopes that the fish would come back. When they revisited it in 2002, they found the fish stocks were in worse shape than at the outset of the moratorium. It is now in place permanently. And apparently, outside of Canada, no one took notice of this catastrophe. For the rest of the world, it looked pretty much like an example of “It couldn’t happen here.” Yeah, right.
If we didn’t know this before, we now know better than that. Here is an article from the National Post illustrating that the Newfoundland disaster was not an isolated incident. This will happen across our planet with increasing frequency, yet there doesn’t seem to be anyone terribly concerned with it.
Aquaculture while an amazing achievement is not the answer. Our naturally reproducing fish are in grave danger of disappearing and still we harvest them irresponsibly. There are a few countries starting to act with an eye to the future, but until the rest of those countries contributing to this dilemma own up to their own hand in this, nothing will change except for the greater decrease of this natural resource.
Write letters. Make phone calls. Protest even. It is our “Today” and our children’s “Tomorrows.”
Twenty years later, New England fishery collapse mirrors Newfoundland disaster
Twenty years after Ottawa imposed a moratorium on Newfoundland’s cod fishery, northeastern U.S. states are looking at similar cuts as fishery officials argue for steep new limits in an effort to stave off disaster.
“The game is over” reported the Boston Business Journal, noting that one official called it “a day of reckoning.”
The New England Fishery Management Council voted Wednesday night to cut the catch limit on Gulf of Maine cod by 77 percent – although most members reportedly agreed the move was tantamount to shutting down direct fishing for cod, which has sustained New England’s inshore fishing industry for centuries.
The Georges Bank cod catch is to be cut by 66 percent.
The Gloucester Times reports the cuts are so severe, at least one council member argued for a complete shutdown of the cod fishery, altogether. ““I don’t see myself leaving the dock next year, I’m not sure we’re going fishing (anymore),” said Councilor Joe Orlando of Gloucester, according to the Times. Another Gloucester fisherman, Paul Vitale, said the “docks and the stores” will be quiet.
The New York Times report was similarly grim:
“We are headed, slowly, seeming inexorably, to oblivion,” said John Bullard, the regional administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a member of the council, as he explained his support for the catch limits. “I do not deny the costs that are going to be paid by fishermen, families, communities. They are real. They will hurt.”
The problem, he said, is not government inflexibility, as fishermen have suggested, but the lack of fish. “It’s midnight and getting darker when it comes to how many cod there are,” he said. “There isn’t enough cod for people to make a decent living.”
Fishermen were shocked by the decision, seeing it as the end of an industry that sustained their communities for centuries.
“Right now what we’ve got is a plan that guarantees the fishermen’s extinction,” one told the Times.
“I’m leaving here in a coffin,” said another.
The reaction mirrored the trauma that hit Canada’s east coast 20 years ago, when federal authorities declared a moratorium on cod, warning that years of overfishing had reduced stocks by up to 97%. Despite hopes that stocks might revive if left alone, a decade later the federal fisheries minister announced the outright closure of the fishery in the Atlantic provinces and Quebec.
In New England, optimism is in short supply.
“We are headed down the wrong course here, of exterminating the inshore fleet, for no good reason,” David Goethel, a New Hampshire fisherman and council member, told the Associated Press.
“I’m bankrupt. That’s it,” said 40-year-old Gloucester fishermen Paul Vitale, a father of three. “I’m all done. The boat’s going up for sale.”