Collapsing Fisheries

“Today each and every river and waterside of our realm, large and small, yields nothing due to the evil of the fishers and the devices of [their] contriving, and because the fish are prevented by them from growing to their proper condition, nor have the fish any value when caught by them, nor are they any good for human consumption, but rather bad, and further it happens that they are much more costly than they used to be, which results in no moderate loss to the rich and poor of our realm.” – King Philip IV of France (1289).

Relative biomass estimates from the beginning of industrialized fishing:


{Myers, R.A., Worm, B. (2003), 'Rapid worldwide depletion of predatory fish communities', Nature 423, p. 280-283}

One Response to “Collapsing Fisheries”

  1. Tiffany says:


    I wonder if the “temperate pacific” includes the extreme northern pacific. With the measures they have been putting into effect, there has supposedly been an upsurge in the population (though this is not necessarily biomass) of fish.

    Have you looked into the ‘recent’ reform which has gone on up there? It utterly changed the fishing industry. I remember the uproar it caused as a child, mostly because there were some very shady deals which happened with senator Stevens and his giving of IFQs to people as favors. The “processor shares” laws were passed after that, supposedly as part of the package, but those also were… rather interesting. It has led quite often to a lack of competition among processors for fish product, so that the processors can pay fishermen far less than they used to (nor can the fishermen strike, because they’re sometimes just too far into debt or have a family to feed).

    Although, supposedly the herring catches have never been the same since the Exxon Oilspill (nor has Exxon even come close to paying for what they did…). They’re just beginning to recover.
    – That’s also an ‘interesting’ piece of history, because it shows just how these graphs can mean a number of different things, rather than merely that we are overfishing the oceans.

    Just a little bit of recent history ;).

    While the IFQ/Processor shares laws have supposedly been heralded as a movement towards conservation and etc, the goddamn politicians just can’t help but abuse the system… hmmm…

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