"FISHING" VS "OVERFISHING"
The words “fishing” and “overfishing” occur frequently in the
literature dealing with the marine ecosystem. They are presumed to have two
different meanings, perhaps even being opposites of a sort. The underlying
assumption seems to be that “fishing” is OK, and is not inherently harmful to
the environment, as long as it is carried out at the appropriate “level” or
intensity. Fisheries managers look at the data on each species, do a series of
calculations, and theoretically come up with a number (“quota” or “allowable
catch”) of fish that can be caught without doing damage to the stock, or in
other words be “SUSTAINABLE.” The problem is that this approach has never
worked. Stocks have been “managed” in this way for years, and still persist
in their declining trends. Efforts continue to be made to discover where to
draw the line, but the “sustainable” fishing level still eludes us. That is
because “fishing” is not “sustainable” unless a way is found to replace the
organic material that is removed from the system. As it is done today,
“fishing” is exactly the same thing as “overfishing.” That is, all fishing
contributes to the further depletion of the overall system.
Much has been written about the changes in the fishing industry in recent years. There have been many articles in newspapers and magazines, and many books written on the subject. From what I have seen, all seem to blame the trouble on “overfishing.” But what if “fishing” = ”overfishing”? There is no real difference. A typical summary of fishing in this century can be found in articles such as “THE GLOBAL FISHERIES CRISIS” (
"Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal."
- Albert Einstein
illustration above and bottom trawl fishing photo at top of page from NOAA