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What happened to the Grand Banks Cod

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The Grand Banks once supported one of the largest stocks of cod in the world, now mostly gone from overfishing. In the Barents sea, same fish same overfishing problems but today, they stil have their fish. So what needed to change in Canada? It turned out cod, was made of meat. And bigger cod was made out of more meat. Their flesh is soft and flaky and high in protein. They're built for catching prey in quick bursts but give almost no fight on a line or against nets. To feed they open their giant mouths and take in anything they can see. They'll even eat their own young. You can shape a piece of lead like a baby cod and they'll try to eat it. All this makes them a great commercial. The grand banks have been fished since before settlers had come to north america . Among other countries, It's been fished by Spain, Portugal, Russia, Germany, France, the United states and Greenland. and Canada. The early described the grand banks as inexhaustible. But that's just because for centuries people fished using wind powered boats with oar powered dories to send out long lines. Then they would salt the cod and dry them on land. Now they're bigger, covered and gas powered ships, with bottom trawl nets, refrigeration and procesing facilities that lets them go out further, longer, catch more fish, keep them fresher and with less effort. Because of the new technologies, between 1958 and 1977 the catch of cod reached record levels. Most of it was caught by the non-Canadian offshore ships. Canada pushed for 200 mile limits within which any resources would belong to the countries they border. Only two areas were outside Canadian control. But rather than conserve the resource, through subsidies Canada expanded its own offshore fleet to exploit the gap left by the foreign ships. The government can transfer money to fishers in many ways: But the largest of these subsidies was the unemployment insurance, meant to motivate people to enter and stay in the fishery. But the problem was.... .....that it was motivating people to enter and stay in the fishery.A simplified predator and prey relationship goes like this: If predator population get's too large and eat too much of their prey, then prey numbers decline. Later the predators might not have enough food so they'll die off a bit. Which decreases pressure on the prey population who can increase in numbers. Which in turn gives the predators more food allowing them to increase in numbers. And so on. When the government gives money to the industry it alters that feedback loop. The industry doesn't grow and shrink with the resource, and the fleet and fish processors grow to overcapacity. Between 1981 and 1990, employment insurance was 50-60% of a fisherman's total income. Which was bad. But subsidies might not be the only problem. Technology might allow the fishermen to find and catch fish faster than the fish can reproduce. So the government set a quota, of how much they're allowed to catch. But obviously it was being set too high. Back then, quotas were based on the maximum sustainable yield. Let' s say this is the maximum population the fish can reach because of food and habitat constraints. Let's say if you take this much it will grow back to max population. Or if you take this much it will grow back. The maximum sustainable yield is the spot where you can take the most with the population growing back. Catching more than this is "unsustainable", so quotas are set a bit below for safety. But settings quotas like this only looks at one organism at a time. For example, if Mackeral eats Herring eggs, and Herring eats Cod eggs. and cod are probably eating their own eggs. Fishing herring can affect the other population of the others. And they all eat different things at different life stages. Also it ignores the size and age of the fish. Cod reach sexually maturity at 2-4 years of age. They never stop growing and can be gigantic. The bigger they are the more and better the eggs they produce. But when you fish them a lot, they're population is smaller and younger. So the MSY isn't a good representation of the fishes productivity. On top of that it's almost impossible to know how much fish there are. They're basically invisible because they're under a bunch of water.... and they move around. That's why realistic statistics are presented with, among many other ignored features, a range to account for the uncertaintly and assumptions. So when the researchers presented their findings like: "OK, now you should be conservative because we don't actually know how many fish there are. But we think there's probably maybe somewhere between 150 000 - 200 000 tons of fish..." " 200 000 tons of fish... sounds good" said the government. And the researchers couldn't work around the politicians and tell people what was really going on or they could lose their jobs. Departmental guidelines restricts speaking out against the position of the department. A former DFO employee said the government would "hide negative any negative information that took the gloss off what they presented. Jake Rice, former head of DFO's ground fish division admitted: "you can only tell half the answer because the other half is still being debated in Ottawa for its political sensitivities" Hiding a part of the whole truth is just lying. At least that's what I learned from Saturday morning cartoons. Since the stock was falling, the inshore fishermen complained about their falling catches. But they were ignored by the government. They said, "the offshore fleet aren't complaining and they're still catching loads!" But the offshore fleet were using new technologies and navigations systems to target the fish exactly where they were hiding. Lots were still being caught but their numbers were falling. So when the estimates came back uncertain, but low, the government looked at them with a positive light because they wanted a return on their investments and they didn't want to piss off offshore fishermen by cutting quotas. This is centralized decision making at its worst. Even in the last year before the collapse when the researchers recommended serious quota cuts, the minister said the quotas were so low they were "demented". Basically the government didn't want to make a decision that would create a loss of jobs. But, to create jobs or to preserve jobs, those aren't proper goals. If they were the government could do anything to make jobs and people would be happy. They could subsidize the Face Digging Industy. Specializing in digging ditches with your face. With Competitive wages. Everybody wants to have a job, so they can buy bagels and exercise equipment from the TV. But that's not why a job exists. Jobs exist because the work is needed or is in demand. A job isn't justifiable by any other reason. Decisions shouldn't be made with the employment rate in mind. But the best way to maintian fishing jobs, is to make sure there's fish. Making sure there are fish is like the other thing you have to think about. Other than who gets to fish, and how you're gonna get them outta the water. So after the collapse when everyone lost their jobs. The cod didn't come back like they thought they would. Government warlocks sensed that seals were responsible. So the government increased seal hunting subsidies and quotas. Buuuut it didn't help. Let's look somewhere less stupid In the late 80s in Barents sea, the Northern Norwegian fishers had an almost identical problem. Like in Newfoundland their policy makers and researchers had expected their stock to increase but in 1989 saw that the fish population was declining from overfishing. They had as much subsidization and government control and they had manage it with other countries, mainly Russia. But when the researcher came back and recommended a drastic cut in the fish quota to 100 000 tons. The government said... OK. People lost their jobs. There were huge increases in depression and alcoholism, outmigration... poor economic times that they hadn't seen since the great depression. It was all the things the Canadian government wanted to avoid on their hands. But, since the quotas were cut while the stock still had some life, the fish population rose. And continued to rise. Today they have the healthiest and largest stock of cod in the world and in 2013 the quota was set for a million tons. So what was the difference? Was it just a difference in leadership competence? Maybe, but there are at least 3 other differences. The Marine Research Insitute, while a government body, was separate from the central management authority. So the research wasn't influenced by the politicians, who can worry about their image more than the truth. Secondly, in the decade after the decline the Norwegian government cut basically all subsidization of the fishing industry, to reduce overcapacity. Finally in Norway the fishers had strong local governments, with elected officials. They were only an advisory body to the government and didn't have a lot of power on paper, but things couldn't easily be imposed on them, and decisions generally went through them. This increased communication and trust. With so many competing interests over such a large area, government control is typically the go-to management scheme. But without a little communication or co-management you get governments ignoring fishermen, and fishermen hating the government and refusing to follow new rules. Fisherman: "And not only me, every fisherman on this island, we're going fishing!" In the end the government doesn't have to deal with the social or economic effects like they think they do. Their just the ones that make the decisions. .. you can tell things that are alive from things that are not alive. It's also pretty easy to tell things that alive from things that are dead. But.. what is life? There isn't really a straight forward definition, but a set of descriptors that say what life generally has. But that's sorta like explaining what a tampon is by describing the parts of a tampon. But never saying it's a thing you stuff up a vagina to absorb the blue liquid that girls excrete. The best overall description is probably that life characterizes objects that have signalling and self sustaining processes....

Video Details

Duration: 8 minutes and 17 seconds
Country: Russia
Language: English
Genre: Animated
Views: 692
Posted by: irarmy on Nov 8, 2014

In 1992, one of the largest stocks of fish in the world, fished for over 500 years, went almost extinct and to this day have not returned in commercially viable levels. What is it specifically that create tragedies like this? How have other countries avoided overfishing?

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