Fish, Fisheries and Queryomics
For like the 32nd consecutive year, the United Nations (UN) reports that the World’s fisheries are overexploited. But now, finally, we have someone to blame. Wealthy Asians. Beel says, come on.
Captured fish are going to be sold. Beel is pretty sure of this.
If Asians, or anyone else, have money to buy fish and demand exceeds supply, the price will increase: look at prices in your local markets over the past year. They have gone up. Asian money may be buying fish, but it is not putting fishers to sea. In fact, in many fisheries, fleet size is decreasing. Fish stocks are on the decline, fuel prices are increasing, and it is increasingly difficult to make a living at fishing.
Don’t you love this picture, which came with one of these reports? This guy, man against the ocean, with a cast net, tossing from a seawall, is bringing the oceanic fisheries to its knees.
C’mon. It’s boats like this (above), which harvest tons of fish and “bycatch” on every haul, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that are putting the hurt on fisheries. The little guy with a cast net can’t survive. Nor can the fish.
So, what is up? Well, demand for fish is up, prices are up, but availabiliy is down. Beel is a biologist, but sees this as simple economics. So simple, in fact, that not even an economist could obscure it!
But Beel does not ignore the impact of many small fishers, in certain inshore fisheries.
Why doesn’t anyone step in? Why does overfishing still occur in USA waters? Why did the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admistration) recently put in place catch limits for most USA coastal and marine fishes?
They put the limits in place, because USA fisheries are in decline. Because fishers want to catch fish, and more fish. When NMFS tries to be responsible, fishers look to use political pressure to have responsible administators, such as Jane Lubchenco, fired. In her tenure, Lubchenco has arguably done more to involve fishers, particularly recreational fishers, in decision making than any of her precessors.
Beel gives Dr. Luchenco denstormerpresent’s highest award:
But, back to the UN. Every year, it seems, they report more gloomy news. Fisheries are overexploited. Fisheries are overexploited. Beel suspects that people get desensitized to this message. Let Beel present results of a Google Insights for Search analysis of queries for overfishing.
Clearly, there is a longterm trend for decreasing search volume. Interest in overfishing is decreasing. Sure, people have other interests, but Beel has to wonder whether the persistent discussion of overexploitation isn’t desensitizing the public. Beel asks, what do you think?