Are Alaska pollock in trouble in the Bering Sea? Are they "collapsing" as some suggest? The best evidence says "NO."
Here at blogfish we looked at recent good news for pollock, and a 20 year history and concluded that pollock are low but improving. But guess what? An astute blogfish reader suggested a look back to the 1960's might be informative. OK, let's go a back 45 years.
The situation looks a bit different based on a draft analysis provided to blogfish, which should be publicly released soon. In the 1960's, before substantial fishing began, pollock in the Bering Sea were less abundant than today. In fact, there were less pollock in the mid-1960's than during recent lows that led some to say the fishery was "collapsing."
Wow, that was a helpful look back. It looks like the fish go up and down, and there is no obvious decrease in the amount of pollock in the Bering Sea since big fisheries began to catch a lot of pollock.
What does the future hold? I hear that climate change may cause pollock to shift northwards, and fishing may have to move to keep catching the fish. And that might cause some to say "collapse" if only looking at certain areas.
It's easy to find fault or success in fishing with selective use of data. But not so helpful.
Of course fishing for pollock takes a lot of fish out of the sea. But so far, I'm not worried that the fishery is collapsing. Do some animals suffer from fishing that takes a lot of pollock out of the ocean? Probably, since some animals eat pollock and have to compete with fishing.
Pollock fishing has become such a political football that it's hard to know what to think these days. Things were looking a bit troubling recently for the pollock fishery, but that trend is now reversing and things are looking pretty good. The pollock fishery in Alaska is certainly one of the better managed big fisheries in the world. But I would still like to see just a bit more concern for the animals that compete with humans for pollock.Tweet