Eating Fish and Chips to Extinction

Fish and ChipsSometimes it takes a meal  to get some notice.  And the next time you try to order fish and chips and the basket comes back heavy on potatoes don’t blame the waiter or waitress.  Our ocean gluttony has decimated the popular batter-dipped fish over the last 40 years.  Gluttony is the key word as our fishing practices are less than sustainable to say the least and the result of consuming a species faster than they can reproduce should not surprise any of us.

The fact is that cod are vanishing, which is why the European Union is calling for sharp cuts to fishing quotas.  But are “sharp” cuts up to 25% in some fishing areas enough to ensure the species fully recovers? I’m not convinced!

Here are a few points to consider:

  • In the 1970s more than 250,000 tons of cod were estimated to fill fishing zones in the North Sea, eastern British Channel and Scandinavia’s Skagerrak Strait
  • Stocks are now hovering around 50,000 tons, a mere 20% of historical estimates
  • “…will seek to cut the catch in some fishing grounds around Britain, France, Spain and much of Scandinavia from 5,700 tons this to 4,250 tons in 2010”
  • “The scientific prognosis for most stocks is not encouraging, with many in a worse state than last year,” Britain’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  • “Overfishing off Canada’s maritime provinces exhausted the world’s richest cod grounds and forced the government to impose a fishing moratorium. The collapse wiped out more than 42,000 jobs, and 18 years later the fish have still not returned. Some Canadian scientists believe the collapse of cod stocks off Newfoundland and Nova Scotia changed the marine ecosystem so dramatically that it may be impossible for cod to recover.”
  • In the U.S., the two major New England cod fishing waters have witnessed steep declines with catches totaling only 3,868 metric tons in 2007. This is about 19% of historical catches in the 1980s (20,000 tons annually)

Reference: EU officials warn of disappearing cod

About The Author

Scott serves as Director of Development & Communications for Audubon Canyon Ranch (focusing on preservation, education and conservation science) and has almost fifteen years of experience spanning for-profit and nonprofit sectors in biotech, wildlife conservation and management, communications, and philanthropy. In addition to a strong track record in organizational growth and leadership, he is the founder of Urban Bird Foundation and Burrowing Owl Conservation Network, and presided over ECHO Fund, a coastal protection and restoration organization, as President for four years. Scott holds an M.A. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Development and Policy, degrees in Micro & Molecular Biology and Environmental Sciences, and has complemented his studies with a Master's certificate in Environmental Resource Management.

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