To build upon my piece on cod (was going to write “cod piece” but was like, wait that’s something else) from last week, see this letter to the editor of the Providence Journal from a fisherman/PhD student which I think really gets at the desperation those employed for generations as cod fishers feel.
Admittedly, the writing of the op-ed is not all that clear, but what he seems to be saying is that scientific models say one thing but personal observation of the fish stocks say another and that people should therefore be allowed to fish. The problem with this is that a) the models are almost certainly correct and b) there aren’t enough fish to sustain this lifestyle, not to mention the species. He blames industry too:
Perhaps we should all take a minute to think next time that we eat out and have a choice between “sustainable” factory trawled fish or “unsustainable” hand-caught Gulf of Maine cod. Is domination by 200-foot factory trawlers owned by million-dollar businesses how we want the fishing industry to end up? Is an industry of a few large boats truly more sustainable than a few small ones? Or does it simply come down to the reliability of science and management ? In any event, the New England groundfish industry will soon be consolidated into the hands of a few factory trawlers employing tenant-fishermen.
There is a good point here–the industrialization of fishing has been a massive disaster except for a few capitalists. It’s not as if we really needed a huge explosion in fishing in the 1960s and 1970s that started the process toward this crisis. Fishing became a product like plastic–what new things can we figure out what to do with this stuff. That included pet food, fertilizers, the creation of aquaculture operations, glues, etc. On the other hand, science and management does have to rule the day here I think–although like forestry management, it might be quite correct to say that fisheries management basically favors monopoly over small producers. I need to examine this in more detail.
Factory fishing simply is not sustainable for communities or for fish stocks. It drives independent fishers out of work and destroys fishing cultures. And unlike, say, corn–where for all its problems at least you can make an argument that factory farming has the potential to feed the world, factory fishing is the modern day equivalent of factory bison hunting.