Environmental Defense Fund: Oceans of Jellyfish? Or Oceans of Abundance? The Choice is Ours

Most of America’s seafood counters display glistening mounds of all manner of fresh fish. But this bounty belies the fact that the oceans are in serious trouble. In the U.S., thousands of fishermen have lost their jobs, and signs of ecosystem collapse are on the rise, as nets get clogged with jellyfish rather than sought-after kinds of fish.

The graph below paints a sobering picture of how much fish populations have dwindled – and where they might be headed if we don’t act soon: In 1950, just 15 percent of stocks were overfished; in 2003, 70 percent were overfished or had totally collapsed

A recent New York Times article by food writer and cookbook author Mark Bittman captures just how bad the situation with the oceans has become (A Seafood Snob Ponders the Future of Fish, Nov. 16).

But despite the spate of dire news, there is reason for hope. Compelling new information published in the world’s leading scientific journals in the last few months provides solid evidence that we can turn the tide on declining fish populations.

Two landmark studies found that a fisheries management approach called “catch shares” prevents, and can even reverse, the collapse of the world’s fisheries.Β  Catch shares turn fishermen into ocean stewards; they are allocated a share of total catch based on a scientifically determined limit, or quota – a kind of cap-and-trade for fish.Β  The new analyses shows catch share fisheries to be on average four times more productive than non-catch share fisheries.

To learn why this tool seems the best hope for building economic wealth and environmental sustainability in America’s seas, visit OceansofAbundance.org.

  1. Trevor Branch

    The figure that you re-publish is misleading: it is impossible to categorize any fishery as developing in the most recent time period. The criterion for developing is that the catch is less than half of the maximum and the year is before the maximum year. But in the most recent year the catch is either at the maximum or after the maximum, therefore the fishery is classified as fully developed. Even if catches were fluctuating around some fixed mean you would see this pattern.

  2. steve branson

    sounds all rosey if you aren’t familiar with privatized fisheries, but in practice “catch shares” have turned real, boots on deck, fishermen into sharecroppers and gifted ownership of a once {America’s} public resource to affluent boat owners and corporations.Many sold thier boats and just sit back and charge lease fees on thier now private property- the yet uncaught fish and crab in the ocean.The stewards spoken of cannot be so if they dont actually fish.Take half of my fair pay away and see how well I treat the fish stocks you own… I kill for a living and wasnt included in the givaway, Im now paid 20 cents on the dollar for king crab compared to my pre-privatiztion compensation. what will be privatized next, water? air? why not gift all the oil and gas to exxon and BP?surely they wont spill as much.Privatization destroyed the fishing communities of canada and now is doing the same thing in Alaska. Dont believe me? Get your boots on and come check it out for yourself.
    Steve branson crewmen’s association 907 539 1098

  3. mangler

    Well at least you still have a job. I lost my last two boats, one in the buyback, the other was bought by Trident and tied up. I fought like hell my entire career to stay on the right side of the rail, in the end I was pushed overboard by npfmc. They literally killed the life I loved.


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