Sunday, November 05, 2006

Plenty more fish in the sea? Not by 2048

Although late to post this news due to a flying visit to London to present a paper at the Work and Well Being conference at the ONS on Friday, this story is perfectly timed as my Environmental Economics course gets stuck into "Natural Resources" this week and static and dynamic fishery models get top billing.

Given the importance of fish as a staple food for millions of individuals and of fishing as the main employment for thousands of coastal communities I suspect the whole "fisheries" issue will become increasing important. The use of fish farms as a solution also has well known problems.

However, as an economist one is always sceptical of such claims - surely the market will find a solution well before the fish run out? Similar arguments can be expounded as to why we will never run out of oil or any other natural resource, renewable or not. Surely supply and demand and the price mechanism will save us or will this just be another common tragedy?

Ocean Fish, Seafood Could Collapse By 2048 - Study
WASHINGTON - The world's fish and seafood populations will collapse by 2048 if current trends in habitat destruction and overfishing continue, resulting in less food for humans, researchers said on Thursday.

In an analysis of scientific data going back to the 1960s and historical records over a thousand years, the researchers found that marine biodiversity -- the variety of ocean fish, shellfish, birds, plants and micro-organisms -- has declined dramatically, with 29 percent of species already in collapse.
Extending this pattern into the future, the scientists calculated that by 2048 all species would be in collapse, which the researchers defined as having catches decline 90 percent from the maximum catch.

This applies to all species, from mussels and clams to tuna and swordfish, said Boris Worm, lead author of the study, which was published in the current edition of the journal Science.


"This research shows we'll have few viable fisheries by 2050," Andrew Sugden, international managing editor of Science, told reporters at a telephone news briefing. "This work also shows that it's not too late to act."

Finally, on fish farms:
Certain kinds of aquaculture -- like the traditional Chinese cultivation of carp using vegetable waste -- can also be beneficial, according to the scientists. However, farms that aim to raise carnivorous fish are less effective.

No comments: