Friday, November 07, 2008

A codless country

Hold on to your Mark Kurlansky books, they might become historical artifacts. The cod of the Gulf of St. Lawrence have 40 years left, at best, and only 20 years if fishing stays at current levels. Douglas P. Swain and Ghislain A. Chouinard report on this imminent extinction in the latest Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, only, being scientists, they call it extirpation. Technically, extinction requires you to prove all the fish are gone, while an extirpated population is barely hanging on -- too small to sustain itself, much less feed people or wildlife.

This is the second Atlantic cod stock to crash in the region, and even severe restrictions haven't brought the fish back. Fish mortality is high and getting higher, with no clear answer or remedy. Once upon a time, cod were money; today they're just emulating the financial markets, with no bailout in sight.

It's open access so you can enjoy the whole paper.


Tracy Rouleau said...

It's truly sad - being originally from New England I had planned on doing my dissertation research on Cod, but the state of the population was frankly too depressing to tie myself so closely to.
I am also not sure your choice of the word "enjoy" was the appropriate, or perhaps you were being ironic ;-)

Kate Wing said...

Indeed, there are people out there who enjoy depressing scientific papers. Perhaps I should have specified the type of enjoyment...