In a stunning twist, climate change is a new shield for failed fishery management. Why did cod collapse off New England and Newfoundland? Al Gore did it.
Global warming is blamed for slowing cod growth, so that as fishermen removed cod they were not replaced fast enough. Beware the topsy-turvy thinking that makes fishing an unchangeable baseline and the messy ocean and capricious cod a villian that undermines our economy.
Such reasoning enshrines overfishing as an entitlement, a right. Fishermen were happily catching cod, and they caught way too many until the fishery crashed. But now a new study by Brian Rothschild says the environment failed, cod had too little to eat, and that was the problem. The darn cod just weren't growing fast enough to support the fishing that was happening.
So, if I spend more money than I make, I can just blame the darn economy for failing to provide me with enough income?
The author of the new study has a long history with fishery management, and he testified before Congress in favor of Mr. Pombo's bill weakening US fishery laws to allow managers more leeway to keep overfishing. This is not the mainstream of US fishery science or management.
Mr. Rothschild does agree that fishing matters. He explained that fishing has a "much stronger effect" on the health of cod stocks when there is a negative environmental change happening in the ocean. However, when the environment is in a more positive state, the same level of fishing has a "much lesser effect," he said.
In other words, the environment (and the fish) are responsible for overfishing.