Fishery scientist Ray Hilborn is mad, and he isn't going to take it anymore. He's launched a new attack on critics of fishery management. His lecture illuminates the strengths and weaknesses of his profession.
Mr. Hilborn has a clear bottom-line message: it's the catching of fish that matters. If fish are still coming over the side, then all is well. It's a message straight out of his classic fishery science textbook. Fish depletion? It's not a problem, it's part of the plan.
In celebrating YIELD (# of fish caught) as the King, the empire crumbles. Apparently, fishery scientists have yet to learn that they neglect the fishes' ecosystem at their peril (and at the peril of the fishermen). With near-religious faith, they assume that fish depleted today will boom again tomorrow. It's a comforting kind of faith, that unfortunately hasn't proven true. Too many fish don't recover after being fished into depletion.
Mr. Hilborn's profession seems set to play out a tragic verison of the oath of Hemingway's Santiago: "Fish, I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends." This is poor service to the fishermen Mr. Hilborn so clearly respects.