Fishing for the truth on ocean protection

An article by Gareth Morgan and Geoff Simmons in the New Zealand Herald highlights the environmental issues surrounding fishing,  drawing on the research presented in their book ‘Hook, Line & Blinkers: Everything Kiwis Never Wanted to Know About Fishing‘.

An excerpt (read in full here):

Our oceans can’t survive fishing madness

The election is looming, but it’s a sad state of affairs when a conversation over tea takes precedence over actual policies.

So we’ve decided to clock out and go fishing.

Out on the waves, the vast blue of the ocean dupes us to believe it to be a limitless source of food and a bottomless receptacle of our waste.

Yet as instances of abuse of our oceans accumulate we are slowly realising that this free-for-all can’t continue – unless we’re happy to leave the ocean in a worse state for our grandchildren.

The depletion of global fisheries, the degradation of marine ecosystems and despoliation events like the Exxon Valdez, the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster and closer to home, our own Rena stranding, are all mileposts of the ever-increasing strain we’re exerting on the oceans.

It’s reminiscent of limits that the unbridled exploitation of land hit only a few hundred years ago. We’ve all heard of the tragedy of the commons – the idea that given half a chance villagers will overgraze a patch of common land with their cattle, leaving it fit for no one. Nowadays the commons have largely been erased on land, most commonly replaced with individual property rights such as our own fee-simple title.

But two huge commons remain in our world – the ocean and the atmosphere. Each is at risk, with issues such as climate change and unsustainable fishing at the forefront of the stresses they’re under thanks to a lack of effective governance of the resource.

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