Overfishing: What Everyone Needs to Know

Overfishing: What Everyone Needs to Know

Overfishing: What Everyone Needs to Know

Overfishing: What Everyone Needs to Know

Excerpt

On November 3, 2006, the New York Times ran a front-page article reporting that current fish stocks were on their way to collapse. The story, apocalyptically titled “Study Sees ‘Global Collapse’ of Fish Species,” cited expert predictions that if “fishing around the world continues at its present pace, more and more species will vanish, marine ecosystems will unravel and there will be ‘global collapse’ of all species currently fished, possibly as soon as midcentury.” Based on a press release that focused on one paragraph in an otherwise doomfree paper published in Science, the most prestigious scientific journal in the United States, the story went global, hitting the front pages of most major newspapers and making the BBC evening news. This particular story has had astonishing staying power but is only one of many about the demise of world fisheries and the collapse of marine ecosystems that has circulated in the last 10 years.

Yet in 2009, several of the same authors of the 2006 study concluded in another Science paper, entitled “Rebuilding Global Fisheries,” that, after studying the trends in abundance and the percentages harvested for 167 fish stocks from around the world, “the average exploitation rate … is now at or below the rate predicted to achieve maximum sustainable yield for seven [out of 10] systems.” Unsurprisingly, there were no global headlines.

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