Culinate

Fish tales

A look at the world’s seafood situation

By
October 9, 2009

In a lengthy piece over on the Mother Nature Network, Russell McLendon explores the dicey future of seafood. But first he looks at the history of overfishing, which began, he says, when humans started getting too good at fishing, about 1,000 years ago:

New ships, equipment, and techniques let them focus on large, dense populations of marine fish, and the first commercial fishing fleets shipped out from northern Europe around 950 A.D., sparking a revolution in the way people caught, ate, and even thought about fish.

Now, with ever-increasing demand for seafood, McLendon writes, 63 percent of fisheries are dangerously low. But, while worldwide overfishing is a huge problem, some experts are seeing signs of hope:

Many of those overexploited U.S. fish stocks are in serious trouble, from salmon and snapper to yellowfin and yelloweye, but the country’s overall situation is still less dire than it was just a few years ago. Aside from the economic and ecological damage left over from past fishing frenzies — and the ongoing overfishing of sharks and other highly migratory species, including bluefin tuna — [an American fisheries expert] says the United States is on its way back from the brink.

McLendon also discusses catch-share programs, which are managed locally, allowing fishermen to receive shares of the entire allowable catch.

The piece is accompanied by loads of links and terrific graphics. There’s even a mention of pirate fishing. Get schooled.