Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Fishing the Oceans Empty

I see it with my own eyes, every year. For a day or two the local bay is full of boats, setting and hauling in their nets. They come from the north and leave heading south. It's the local herring fleet that harry the roe herring as they migrate south along the east coast of Vancouver Island.

What I also see with my own eyes is a vast stretch of water between the island and the mainland, its enormity marked by far distant mountain peaks, that was once teeming with fish and is now pretty much empty. What happened? Here's a clue. Salmon eat herring, that is unless we take those herring and their roe before they can feed those salmon.

It's a hallmark of our environmental degradation, the ecological deficit we're running that will very soon come home to roost. In oceans world wide we've fished our way down the food chain to the point where we're predating the prey fish stocks. From Environmental News Network:

Scientists are finding evidence of widespread malnutrition in commercial and recreational fish, marine mammals, and seabirds because of the global depletion of the small fish they need to survive, according to Oceana's new report, "Hungry Oceans: What Happens When the Prey is Gone?" These "prey fish" underpin marine food webs and are being steadily exhausted by heavy fishing, increasing demand for aquaculture feed, and climate change.

"We have caught all the big fish and now we are going after their food," said Margot Stiles, marine scientist at Oceana. "Until recently it has been widely believed that prey fish are impossible to overexploit because their populations grow so quickly. We are now proving that untrue as the demands of commercial fisheries and aquaculture outpace the ocean's ability to provide food for us and itself."

The future of valuable commercial and recreational fisheries is threatened by the loss of prey fish, especially those that are currently rebuilding from historic depletion. Hungry Oceans identifies bluefin tuna, striped bass, Pacific salmon, and Pacific halibut as key species dependent on prey fish.

"We're constantly making life difficult for endangered species from seabirds to whales, and going hungry is not going to help. Valuable fish like bluefin tuna are struggling, and we can't expect the fishery to recover when we are stealing their food supply. By taking food from the tuna we could end up hungry ourselves" said Stiles.

It's a bitch to sit there and watch this happening before your very eyes. But then again, if we really opened our eyes, there's no end of things we'd have to notice.


LMA said...

Sad. Even when we do open our eyes all we see is new ways and new technologies to consume natural resources for our benefit alone. I felt a chill when Obama said we will "harvest the sun, wind and soil for fuel". It often seems to me that we are heading down the road to extinction with blinders on. It's too bad we are taking so many other species with us.

The Mound of Sound said...

We may well be heading down that road, LMA. DeSmog Blog has a post today about a survey showing that a great majority of leading climate scientists believe we're not going to curb carbon emissions enough to avoid catastrophic global warming. There's a degree of fatalism surfacing in their ranks but yielding to it is the worst possible reaction.

LMA said...

Add global warming to increasing consumption and loss of habitat and the situation for other species is even worse. I would call it realism rather than fatalism to recognize that if our numbers are not reduced, we are in real trouble. We do what we can on an individual level, but we depend on our government to take real action, and I'm still waiting for someone to lead the way.

Anonymous said...

All B.C. has to do is take a good look at what happened in Newfoundland. But at the time it was going on in the early sixties, people across the country weren't interested in what was happening there. MOS you sound hesitant when you use terminology as "We may well be heading down that road, LMA. We "are" running down that road. Cheers, A. Morris

Comrade One said...

We have certainly followed some strange policies and practices regarding our oceans.

Many years ago while reading an historical account of records from Christopher Columbus' journeys to the New World, there was a notation about how difficult it was for them to row ashore as the fish were so plentiful, they greatly impeded attempts to pull the oars. Often the oars simply bounced off of the fish and drew little water.

Also some time ago I read that between federal and provincial governments, fishery dept. employees outnumbered fishermen 2 to 1.

We have introduced so many farm raised salmon that they are threatening what's left of the wild stocks as they compete for food. Society has great concern for the Seal pups and the Sealing industry, but know little of how much cod they consume and how that affects the fishery.

Ships from all over the world regularly discharge bilge into the water containing bunker C, but few suffer consequences.

The Japanese think it's cool to harvest Whales, and they are an ancient society.

The world we make,is indeed a curious place.

The Mound of Sound said...

CO, I met an old fellow, then in his late 90's, a few years back who was born and raised in Nanaimo. Back around the time of WWI, this fellow and his brother would come home from school and be told by their mother to go get a fish for dinner. They had a punt at the water's edge. This guy said there were times when they were in so many fish that they could feel their bodies pushing back on the front of their little boat. For them, catching a salmon for dinner was about as tough as picking your newspaper up from the front porch.

What's really curious is that most of the destruction of our planet's fish stocks has taken place over the past three decades. Depleting these stocks is bad enough, the pace at which we're doing it is more alarming.

We've fished our way down the foodchain but, as this article points out, we're now working our way up at the same time.

One of the main causes of the recent flow of African illegals into Europe is that the European fishing fleet has savaged the fish stocks off the coasts of West Africa. A lot of those refugees come from communities that were dependent on those fish stocks.

The callous, self-destructive indifference we show toward the world's oceans is but one chapter in our ecological degradation of this planet.

And where are we to find the leaders willing and able to deal with the genuinely existential challenges we face?

Anonymous said...

I remember my Uncle doing exactly that in Newfoundland when I was young. He would go out and harvest three big cod; one for himself, one for my grandparents and one for my family. I'm talking about the late 50's. What was the world population then? Its over population that is causing the depletion of fish and countries like Japan who like to think certain parts of a fish will make men more potent….as if we need more children…and throw away the rest. Comrade One, you are absolutely correct. I'd like to add that the Federal Government, both Liberal and Cons have made huge sums of money from foreign counties allowing them fishing rights. In the case of Newfoundland, it only had a three mile limit and the Feds would not allow a five hundred limit or any other limit so the fish stocks could replenish. The attidude of the Feds towards Newfoundland has and still is one of utter disregard for a people who are only to be called "handout" people. Little do Canadians know there are six million Newfoundlanders living off the Island contributing to the Canadian Dream. Fish stocks are gone for Newfoundland. Cheers, A. Morris

Comrade One said...

Yes M of S, what you and A Morris say is just the plain truth. A spade is a spade. One of the things going through my head when I wrote last, was the destruction not only of the Cod fishery, but of the way of life, and the independence.

A Morris' post brought other memories as well. During the late 80's and early 90's I operated a business located on the Trans Canada Hwy in the Maritimes, and had experience with many Newfoundlanders trekking back and forth to Ontario for work. They would go in the spring in some of the worst old contraptions I had ever seen, some hauling trailers and all loaded for bear. Come late fall they would pass our way again on the way back 'ome. I called it the Newfie migration. One young lad of approx. 18 yrs will always stand out as I recall the starry eyed look he had as he proudly and expectantly said, "I'm goin' to Turonta baye, I'm goin' to Turonta."

As to the Leadership issue Mound, I believe we have to begin at the bottom of the system, and change the way we select candidates. Change the entry requirements and set strict controls on things like campaign financing, what advertising mediums can be used and how campaign advertising is conducted. In others words, make it equal and fair and keep it within the means of regular people.

The goal of which would be to change the complexion of political structure resulting in a serious challenge to the exclusive Club like groups we have currently.

I think introducing more legislators who are not bound by party line, would result in greater interest in one's own constituency, a greater voice for reasonable groups outside of the parties and a check and balance mechanism that we do not currently have.

Some of our most committed and highly regarded Parliamentarians have sat as Independents, and I think we need a great deal more of them. As it stands, when you peel the onion, very many who engage in political activity are only interested in the rewards.

The major problem of course, is convincing those who belong to said Clubs, that they should entertain and enact such dramatic changes to a system they are quite supportive of and comfortable with.

They will say, that I am a dreamer. To which I would reply, yes, but I'm not the only One.

The Mound of Sound said...

CO and AM, I've had this site now since late 2006 and 3000+ posts later I'm finding that the exercise has been wonderful for honing my political perspective. That, unfortunately, has been accompanied by a growing cynicism and dissent.

At the outset I considered myself a committed Liberal eager to slay the neo-conservative movement that had taken over the Conservatives and, as the title says, to restore progressive democracy. In that first year or so I really felt that I was with like-minded bloggers (how I hate that term) at Liblogs and Progressive Bloggers.

While I was unhappy, I remained a loyal Liberal during the Dion Dissapointment (hey I've coined a term for it). That changed when the reins passed to Ignatieff.

By word and deed this newcomer wasted no time demonstrating himself to be another neo-conservative, a huckster and a fixer for whom no Liberal value would stand in the way of pandering for votes. A highly educated man who has repeatedly spoken utter nonsense, holding cheap his supposed intellectual integrity.

I've always had something of a gift for spotting phonies in political life. It's a talent that has yet to fail me and it has served me well so I'll keep trusting it until it does. What I've learned is that these types are quite common and only rarely does much good come from them. I have the sense that the current Liberal leader is of these ranks.

Yet I suppose my greatest disappointment hasn't been with the Liberal leadership but with these fellow bloggers I've come to know, somewhat, over these recent years.

In the aftermath of the fall of Paul Martin and through the Dion Disappointment, there were many firebrands among their ranks. There was no shortage of passion and outrage at serious problems besetting mankind from human rights to global security, the environment and the plight of the world's vast pool of poor and disenfranchised.

It was easy to see through Harper. While he's broken his promise on government transparency,on a personal level he's been as gossamer.

A revealing change occured after the annointment of the new Liberal leader. Many of those who had been fervent Harper-baitors took a sharp turn to the right. When their Leader shattered all vestiges of Liberal tradition and evenhandedness on Gaza, they either supported him or conveniently fell mute. Those of us who did criticize our own were castigated as disloyal or not true Liberals. It got bad enough that we left Liblogs altogether and James Curran set up Liberals Online to be the dissidents' new home.

I would never have imagined becoming a Liberal dissident. I've been able to live within the LPC since I first voted for Trudeau in 68. I wasn't always happy with his successors but I was content that they generally cleaved to the party's traditions and values.

I have been saddened and disappointed to watch these people fawn and swoon over this man for no discernable reason other than that they believe he can reclaim power for the Liberal Party. It's the old "the end justifies the means" thinking that has betrayed everyone who ever embraced it and the history of those types is swollen.

These former colleagues showed themselves content to allow Ignatieff to drag the LPC out to the centre right, lashing it to the Harper Conservatives.

If the Liberals can't restore Canada's political centre then we've abdicated our responsibility and become collusionists with Harper in his quest to alter the Canadian political balance. The irony of it, that we're going in the opposite direction to our friends in the south, is painfully breathtaking. Yet many of the bloggers I've known are content with that so long as the next conservative government of Canada is the Liberal Party of Ignatieff or, as I now call them, the IgLibs.

This is particularly painful to a British Columbian Liberal. We've already watched our provincial Liberal party taken over by right wingers, former Socreds who had nowhere else to go when their own party imploded. The liberals within the Liberal Party of British Columbia were promptly sent packing. Today there is nothing remotely liberal in the BC Liberal government and this province has descended back into the abyss of the far right/far left dichotomy.

I'm convinced that Ignatieff will do to the federal Liberals very much what premier Campbell has done to the BC Liberals and I just don't want any part of it.

I freely admit I'm a staunch Axworthy Liberal. I tried to stir up some enthusiasm for bringing in Louise Arbour to be groomed for this party's leadership. I even exchanged e-mails with Michael Ignatieff on the point. He assured me that several overtures had been made to her, by him. Now that events have played out as they have, I'd really like to know more about those overtures.

So why am I so virulent in my rejection of Ignatieff? Because it is quite likely that he will become the next minority prime minister of Canada. I think he'll bring utterly feckless leadership to our country at a time when this nation and our world are confronted with a battery of unprecedented challenges, some of them existential. His kind is far too busy looking into a mirror, preening, to pay attention to the fires burning at our feet. His timid ideology of personal advancement will retard the very actions this country urgently needs to position itself for the very difficult, dangerous century to come.

The proof? His policy on Gaza was tailored for voters at home, not to encourage any meaningful resolution in Israel and the Palestinian territories. His toxic mentality perpetuates the murderous gridlock that has destabilized the entire Middle East region for decades, that virtually ensures there will be no peace - ever.

He claims bitumen is a keystone to national unity and dismisses the environmental catastrophe that is the Athabasca Tar Sands as a mere matter of carbon capture. He displays a stunning ignorance of the scope of environmental degradation caused by the Tar Sands.

The Alberta government itself sets the wildly ambitious goal of capturing just 50%, a mere half of the Athabasca CO2 emissions and that pittance not until 2050. Worse yet, that's an 'intensity based' target so, if they can ramp up production four fold or six fold by then, their maximum target emissions reduction would still produce twice, possible three times what's being emitted today.

Ignatieff supported the Tories' hapless stimulus and recovery budget that will create a mountain of debt to generate a hillock of stimulus. He threatened to topple the government unless it gave up its discretionary, 3-billion dollar slush fund and then folded when Harper called his bluff.

I could go on and on but I do have other things to tackle. I'll end by mentioning something I've noticed from several IgLib blogs (other than their obsessive fascination with lacklustre polls). A number of them are fond of posting clips of Ignatieff appearances. I don't know what they're seeing, what they're hearing but I know what I'm seeing and hearing.

I see a guy whose leadership skills are far from obvious, marginal at best. I see a man who doesn't convey vision but instead says whatever he believes his audience wants to hear. I see a fellow whose committment is to his personal advancement (a'la Harper) rather than the Liberal Party or Canada. It's all rather depressing.

Anonymous said...

Comrade One...I have to make a comment upon your use of the so called "Newfie accent". There 365 different accents in NL and not all Newfoundlanders speak in the manner you have mentioned. As a matter of fact, I was not born in Newfoundland but partly raised there and I do not speak with the sort of accent you alude to. In the area I grew up people spoke correct English with good pronunciation. If you have lived in the Maritimes, you also know that many people in Nova Scoita also have an accent similar to the St. John's, Newfoundland accent which is only found there. To be called a Newfie is not nice as it has a certain connotation....at least....many educated people from Newfoundland don't like it. I am just letting you know. Cheers, A. Morris

Anonymous said...

MOS...I under stand your frustration but you know...it was Trudeau who began moving Parliment into his office and now we see the complete removal by this government. One a stone begins rolling in Politics, it doesn't matter what government, it doesn't stop until it rolls off the ridge...meaning, we are losing our democracy. A. Morris

Comrade One said...

Well 'scuse me Anon. Actually I come from the Maritimes originally and now live there again. In the interim I have been around the world me Son.(So to speak)

In this society of ours, it seems that some feel political correctness is more important than being real and expressing genuine sentiments. I don't subscribe to that way of thinking. If you read what I wrote carefully, you may realize there was no disrespect intended toward Newfoundlanders. In fact, just the opposite.

I could on to explain further, but I think your difficulty possibly stems from being "away" too long.

One of the things I have always enjoyed about Newfies, was their sense of humor and ability to poke fun at themselves and each other. It takes a bigger person to do that and have some fun with it too.

A little heartfelt advice for you A Morris, lighten up a little. It feels good, and don't put so much stock in what others say about Newf's.

Lastly, we Atlantic Canadians can poke fun at each other and most don't get upset by it. Those of us who know better, don't pay much attention to the "Upper Canadian" mindset on this issue.

You can always find me at my blog if you would like to express further thoughts.

Comrade One said...

Geez Mound, and here I thought I was wordy. Don’t get mad now, I’m just having some fun with you.

On what you wrote.

Blogging is a grand way to expand one’s knowledge. It is time consuming, as one has to glean many offerings to find those, which are substantial and present new information. I still find value in conventional media and unlike many bloggers, am not inclined to wholesale criticism, but a good blog can be used to expand on that and go where MSM is leery of going. That’s not to say that I reject thoughts of major news venues being controlled by owners and reflecting the political views of those groups. That can be the case certainly, but with access to media from around the world as we now have, we are able to scan a much wider variety of inputs and thus help to formulate more comprehensive opinions, which are more factually based.

I should add that I came to the game with a highly developed sense of cynicism anyway, and am not easily fooled. Actually, I can sense a huckster very quickly.

I followed Liblogs for some time, and watched the division and the rise of this aggregate. I don’t bother with Liblogs now. I agree with your assessment of Iggnatieff to date. I have made an effort to read his statements, watch some videos and to be objective even though his taking the leadership left me with immediate concerns. Those concerns have not been set aside by anything he has said or done since. In fact, I see him as someone whose strategy is to wait until the economic problems hurt Harper and the Country enough to give rise to his ambitions. I’m still waiting to see what it is that gave upper echelon liberals confidence in him. Frankly, I’m quite baffled.

Igg’s position on Gaza was transparent, gutless, and firmed up my earlier opinions of him. One of the greatest failings I see is that he has no passion, and his delivery reminds me a great deal of Bob Stanfield. Is he done yet?

The Iglibs, heh.. I see him more in the light of his ancestral origins. The White Russian.

Re: timid ideology etc. Reading one of his statements a couple of months back, a song popped into my head. Nowhere Man. Or to add a touch of humor, much like a bowl of Scottish oatmeal. Plain and intended to be consumed with an adequate amount of salt.

Comparing Igg to Harper, I see a lot of similarity. I also see likely voter stagnation for Igg as well as Harper largely because they are so similar. Few people can warm up to Harper, and his success is largely based on the lack thereof of the Conservative movement prior to his appearance. So they go along not because he is inspiring them, but because he is a useful tool and their hunger burned.

Looking down the road, I see this as presenting possibilities for something to come up the middle between these twins. It may be Greens or possibly a whole new entity. Perhaps a Danny Williams type leading a party called Progressive Canadians. A real home for Centrists.

Anonymous said...

Comrade One....."A little heartfelt advice for you A Morris, lighten up a little. It feels good, and don't put so much stock in what others say about Newf's." I wasn't being "up tight" at all....I was adding to your take on Newfoundland accents....that was all I was doing. However, your sarcam is loud and clear "Well 'scuse me Anon." I too have been around the world and not "(so to speak.)" As a matter of fact, your assumnption that I have been away too long (do you mean away from NL?) is just that an assumption. Now that I have read your comments a second time, you do leave a certain taste that NLer's can't spell, speak English, drive old beat up cars loaded with bear...I'm assuming that means "beer". Professing to discuss through dialogue is one thing, practicing it is another. There is a wonderful NL phrase..."cap fit, cap wear".....smile!!!!! You like to dish out but can't take. I will defend NLer's every chance I get for there is far too much crap that comes out of the month of many mainland Canadians regarding NLers. NLer's say themselves, they don't like being called Newfie's. If that is too heavy for you...so be it. A. Morris

Comrade One said...

Morris the Cat says;

I wasn't being "up tight" at all


There is a Newfie tradition, of which you might not be aware. It's called "Kiss the Cod"

You should try it.

My invitation to express your thoughts on my blog remains open.

Anonymous said...

"My invitation to express your thoughts on my blog remains open." It's not worth it....I don't like confrontational people.

Comrade One said...

Morris the Cat said;

"Comrade One...I have to make a comment upon your use of the so called "Newfie accent"

"However, your sarcam is loud and clear "Well 'scuse me Anon." I too have been around the world and not "(so to speak.)"

"There is a wonderful NL phrase..."cap fit, cap wear".....smile!!!!! You like to dish out but can't take."

And lastly,

"I don't like confrontational people."

First rule of debate, don't accuse someone else of that which you are guilty and have put in print.

I don't like hypocrites, nor am I inclined to waste time with people whose attention span is so short that they take a worthwhile topic such as what this thread spoke to, and use it to be petty.

If you have any further complaints, do it at my blog. I won't check here again for your offerings.

Anonymous said...

"In the interim I have been around the world me Son.(So to speak)"...5:15 AM, April 11, 2009. Your words not mine.