Friday, August 15, 2008

Ocean doom and gloom and Jeremy Jackson

Ocean decline is in the news again. Marine biologist Jeremy Jackson provides a stunning update on the state of the world's oceans, and it's not good.

What do I think? Does this dim my optimism? I doubt it, since optimism vs. pessimism is probably rooted more in brain chemistry than rational judgment. This paper makes a strong case for ocean decline and offers a stark warning about our future if we fail to change.

Will we change? Here's where I differ with Dr. Jackson. I can see change coming. He sees bad stuff coming down the road at us, and he thinks we're paralyzed like deer in the headlights, getting run down by a big black Humvee. Ouch.

Jeremy Jackson is good at doom and gloom. There's something about his habit of dressing his pale skin in black, and the obvious contrarian pleasure he takes in promoting the decline of his own body by smoking cigarettes. Lugubrious scientist offer requiem for the sea, it's "Brave New Ocean: the Opera."

But I'm unfair, Jackson does offer some remedies. "Talk to Mark Powell," he says, "and work for implementation of the Magnuson-Stevens Act." OK, that's a paraphrase. Really, he says if we just end overfishing (by implementing the Magnuson-Stevens Act), then things will get a lot better in the US. That would be a nice start.

Well, working with my colleagues in the Gulf of Mexico, we've helped deliver an end to overfishing in this recalcitrant region. It took a lawsuit and lots of other work, and now it's going to happen. They said it couldn't be done, and they were wrong. Next stop for the End Overfishing Express? New England. Anything is possible.


Anonymous said...

I have not seen this mentioned anywhere, but will the political fallout from Sen. Ted Stevens indictment have any impact on the Magnuson-Stevens Act?

Mark Powell said...

In a word, no. Almost nobody in Congress wants to reopen the contentious issues of fishing. There are some backwards members from the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions who want to give fishermen a break from ending overfishing. Bad idea. At most, they'll get some very minor and narrow exceptions. More concern is the implementation of the Act by NOAA. There is room for shenanigans, and we'll all have to watch to ensure overfishing is really ended.

Tim Adams said...

Is this the same Jeremy Jackson who in 2005 asserted that "There are no sustainable fisheries except perhaps anchovies and sardine. Sustainable fisheries are a joke..."? That "there is not an estuary in the world which has not become a bacterial jellyfish soup, and it is virtually the same for all ocean ecosystems ..."? Obviously not a man prone to exaggerating things for effect then!