Monday, December 11, 2006

Overfishing to end in the US

Boldly inching foward, Congress says no more US overfishing after 2010. This modest improvement is welcome, but the real story of this action is one of bullets dodged and opportunities missed.

It could have been much worse...some people wanted to keep overfishing where fishing fleets and processors are dependent on overfishing. Thanks to Senator Ted Stevens for his determination to "just say no" to overfishing. It will be interesting to see whether fishery managers can kick the overfishing habit.

Now for the hard work...learning what it really takes to sustain fishing. We have scary hints that fishing for maximum yield (The Good Depletion) doesn't work. Small wonder, how many of our bold and happy ideas from the 1950s still survive?

Looking forward, there will be much discussion in the next few years over just what is overfishing. Killing too many big, old fish that are needed for reproduction? Removing too much biomass, and causing ecosystem shifts? Where and when do such things reduce productivity? It's now time for a 21st century fisheries debate.

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