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[P]
Industrial fishing proven very efficient

By tetsuwan in Science
Fri May 16, 2003 at 11:05:38 PM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)
Science

A comprehensive meta-analysis of trawl surveys, Japanese pelagic longlining and other data from four continental shelf and nine open ocean ecosystems indicates a 90% decline in predator fish biomass worldwide since the beginning of industrial fishing. This is a major feat indeed.


In a letter to Nature (15 May 2003), Ransom A. Myers and Boris Worm report the following:

  • Analysis suggest an average equilibrium1 of 10% of pre-exploitation levels, with 95% of the individual communities2 landing between 5% and 24%.

  • An 80% decline in biomass typically occurred within 15 years of industrial exploitation. This is usually before scientific monitoring takes place.

  • As new areas were exploited, they were initially very rich in fish, but catch rates were greatly reduced in just a few years.

  • Compensatory increases of fast-growing, non-exploited species were observed, but were in most cases subdued by increased bycatch3 mortality or by becoming targets for trawling.

  • Presently, all major sources of large predatory fish are exploited and severely diminished.

Basis of study

This data was collected from research trawl surveys from northwest Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Thailand and the Atlantic Ocean off South Georgia. The surveys included codfishes, flatfishes, skates and rays, among others. For oceanic systems, Japanese pelagic longlining data from 1952 - 1999 were used. It represents complete catch rate data for tuna, billfishes and swordfish.

Data from most of the northern hemisphere was excluded, since modern fishing methods have been in use for decades before scientific surveying began.

To estimate the reduction in biomass, they used "catch per 100 hooks" for each area, not total yield. They assumed that catch rate is proportional to biomass, but added that this probably underestimates the decline, since intensive fishing tends to reduce average age and weight of the preyed fish.

Consequences

Reduced yield leads to changed strategies for the fishing industries. If some species are fished into oblivion, other species are tracked down and in the end severely reduced. There is a global trend towards ever lower mean trophic levels of the catch, as reported by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Also, the management goals of today are to stabilize the fish stock at current levels. But is it really beneficial to stabilize the stock at levels that are some 10% of pre-industrial levels?

(For a different write-up and interview with Myers, see CNN and National Post )



1. Equilibrium as in residual equilibrium, which is reached after infinite time. Levels near the residual equilibrium are reached pretty fast though.
2. A community is the population of a species in a local ecosystem, e.g. Southern Grand Banks or Gulf of Thailand.
3. Bycatch is fish that is caught in trawls and other fishing tools, but not intentionally targeted.

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Poll
I like my cods
o in the ocean 41%
o off the newspaper headlines 5%
o boiled 2%
o broiled 7%
o fried 14%
o grilled 13%
o gone, I'm allergic to fish 3%
o eaten up by some new genetically engineered superpredator shark 11%

Votes: 122
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o letter to Nature
o CNN
o National Post
o Also by tetsuwan


Display: Sort:
Industrial fishing proven very efficient | 176 comments (158 topical, 18 editorial, 0 hidden)
Canadian developments (4.50 / 10) (#1)
by DingBat1 on Fri May 16, 2003 at 10:11:26 AM EST


Recently, the Canadian government has basically "shut down" the cod fishery off the east coast (Grand Banks). This has had a huge impact on the livelyhood of the small fishing operations in the maritime provinces.

This whole story is getting big play here in Canada because of this and the fact that Myers is working out of Dalhousie University.

Also, more links to this story in the National Post: http://www.nationalpost.com/scienceandtech/story.html?id=E9CF85DF-88FF-49ED-908E -F6166904BCF5

http://www.nationalpost.com/scienceandtech/story.html?id=3B5815C2-BEA2-488B-BBCC -0AA7A4F57D20

East Coast (5.00 / 5) (#54)
by Matrix on Sat May 17, 2003 at 10:42:12 AM EST

As someone on the East Coast, let me say that this is much ado over nothing.

The fishing industry here has been dead for longer than I've been alive. (20 years, for those counting) Not in recession, not in a slump, dead. Why? Because Myers is right - there are no more fish. The small coastal fishery operations that were invested so heavily in almost since John Cabot discovered the region just can't get enough out of the depleted schools to stay competitive. Of course, this is blamed on the government cutting subsidies, because its not possible that we could've been systematically overfishing the region for three hundred years and focusing almost our entire regional economy on that one industry. (Well, that and coal mining. And we all know what happened to the demand for coal)

Of course, the massive corporate factory-trawlers used to pull increasingly larger numbers of fish out of an increasingly smaller pool don't help. But hey, all that matters is the next quarter's financials, right? Who cares what things will be like ten years down the line? Let them eat cake!

But the Left will say, loudly and at length, that they were right all along, and we must all become vegitarians and "go back" to living in communes. And the Right will say, loudly and at length, that the study was biased, that everyone knows fish reproduce and are thus renewable, and continue to fund the whole machine. The reasonable alternatives will never occur to either "side".

Hopefully, the Canadian government will manage to shut down the corporate trawlers in the region too and give the population a chance to replenish itself. And meanwhile, encourage the region to diversify its economics...


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Dead? (none / 0) (#60)
by rusty on Sat May 17, 2003 at 11:34:39 AM EST

I'll have to call up my friends that work in the fishing industry and tell them they're out of jobs then. Funny that they didn't know about it.

No, the industry isn't dead. It's not the biggest game in town anymore, but it's far from dead. What I'm hearing is that boats are going out and catching their limit on the first day.

No more fish?

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Dead. (none / 0) (#62)
by Matrix on Sat May 17, 2003 at 11:57:36 AM EST

Compare to historical records. And note that this is a bad comparison, as limits have been slashed a lot over the last few years. There's also lots and lots of fishermen all over the Atlantic Provinces out of work in the past ten/fifteen years, so there is some stuff happening to control the overfishing.


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Pretty Dead (none / 0) (#73)
by nicklott on Sat May 17, 2003 at 07:32:16 PM EST

What I'm hearing is that boats are going out and catching their limit on the first day

So what do they do for the rest of the month? One days' fishing out of 30 is pretty dead.

The quota limits are obviously there for a reason: no more fish.

[ Parent ]

Uh! Dude... (5.00 / 1) (#75)
by kraant on Sun May 18, 2003 at 03:00:55 AM EST

Not taking sides but you can't argue like that. It's circular.

We have fishing restrictions because there are no more fish.

And how do we know there are no more fish?

Because we have fishing restrictions.
--
"kraant, open source guru" -- tumeric
Never In Our Names...
[ Parent ]

Depends on what fishery you're talking about (none / 0) (#87)
by Wobbly Bob on Mon May 19, 2003 at 01:24:46 AM EST

The quota limits are obviously there for a reason: no more fish.

Most commercial fisheries have quotas, but not necessarily because there are no fish. A lot of newer fisheries, such as lobster and mussles, have quotas as a preventative measure and are well managed.

[ Parent ]

Old News? (none / 0) (#71)
by nicklott on Sat May 17, 2003 at 07:25:28 PM EST

Isn't this old news? I though the Grand Banks had been closed to all trawlers for 10 years or so now?

It's certainly old news in Europe, where tensions over fishing right have reached the point where trawlers sometimes have to be escorted by naval vessels to prevent them being boarded by rivals.

In Britain entire communities have been devastated (eg. Hastings, Cornwall, East Scotland), and it's also affected consumers. (Try getting cod'n'chips from the chippy these days)

I'm really surprised by the response to this article. It's basically a "so what? plenty more fish in the sea" (no pun intended). And this from a supposedly liberal-lefty-caring-sharing-feely-touchy type of community. It's quite scary actually. I'm guessing that most of the posters I've read are from America or Australasia, cos there can't be a European who is unaware of this issue.

I guess maybe these people are more aware of the whaling issue (whales are cuter) and there's at least one post confusing it with this topic, but I'd have thought that whales are largely unaffected by this (they mostly eat plankton and krill). Basically the whales that are left are pretty much safe, there are only three countries that commercially whale any more and they aren't taking that much. No, the real problem these days is overfishing of "commercial species" by enormous industrial fleets that trawl everything living. Get rid of these and you'll have a sustainable fishery and put all the small fisherman back into work to boot. Guess who has more political clout though, the small single-boat fisherman or the industrial size floating tuna factory?

Here's a better article. Take a look at the related articles in the top right for more info. (Google also turned up this. I've no idea what it is but it's full of interesting facts (on fishing))

[ Parent ]

What I was Trying to Say... (none / 0) (#74)
by Matrix on Sat May 17, 2003 at 08:04:28 PM EST

No, the real problem these days is overfishing of "commercial species" by enormous industrial fleets that trawl everything living. Get rid of these and you'll have a sustainable fishery and put all the small fisherman back into work to boot. Guess who has more political clout though, the small single-boat fisherman or the industrial size floating tuna factory?

This sums up in three sentances what I spent an entire post trying to say. Thanks, nicklott

Its hard to believe there are Canadians that aren't aware of this, either. The Americans and Australians might be able to get through in blissful ignorance, as guess who owns most of the industrial-sized floating tuna factories? (Though I seem to recall that a sizable number are European in origin....) But Canadians or Europeans? We're the ones seeing the effects of the population reduction, both economic and ecological.

Of course, the real problem is enforcing these regulations. As a lot of the overfishing happens in "international waters", where the massive fishing corporations are adamant that no law applies.


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

But we LIKE eating tasty fish. (3.91 / 24) (#3)
by K5 ASCII reenactment players on Fri May 16, 2003 at 10:40:39 AM EST

What will my kids eat?  Let them eat teh cake!
           /
          /
    ####
   /  ##
   o o #
  /_   |
    O  |
   \__/


on the other hand: (3.20 / 5) (#9)
by pakje on Fri May 16, 2003 at 12:09:45 PM EST

2 third of the planet is covered by the oceans. And the total volume of the sea is enormous, If I look at how little land we humans actually use for argiculture, and how much we need that for housing, I might think that breeding fish and growing genetically manipulated seaweed can be a very sound solution. Oh well, seawater reflects a great deal of the sunlight, sea-meadows will never produce as good as land.

One problem (4.00 / 2) (#20)
by duffbeer703 on Fri May 16, 2003 at 02:01:12 PM EST

Genetic Engineering and Agribusiness is also evil. Killing all fish is bad, but genetically engineered seaweed is worse.

[ Parent ]
Sunlight does not seem to be a problem` (none / 0) (#100)
by Amorsen on Mon May 19, 2003 at 06:08:32 AM EST

The primary production of the world's oceans seems to be constrained more by lack of minerals than by lack of sunlight. In many places, dumping iron into the water will make production rise a lot.

[ Parent ]
THERE ARE NO FISH!! YOU LIE!! (2.54 / 22) (#12)
by Iraqi Information Minister on Fri May 16, 2003 at 01:07:54 PM EST

Al-Jarzeehra is lying to you when they say the ocean has something they call 'fish'. I promise you!! There are no so-called 'fish' in the ocean. These vile snake dungs lie through every pour of their devilish body. They have run away in terror after we threw our shoes at them. Our vast armies have been granted a great victory and the infidel devil spawns are now rotting at the very gates of Hell!! Soon they will be feasted on by minions of the evil one like flies on a monkey's sweatie balls!!

Calm down (2.66 / 3) (#13)
by tetsuwan on Fri May 16, 2003 at 01:14:57 PM EST

You'll be right soon enough.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

I'm conflicted (3.66 / 3) (#15)
by JahToasted on Fri May 16, 2003 at 01:41:17 PM EST

While I do care about the ocean and all the little fishys in it, for some reason I have this craving for some tasty escovich fish.

+1 FP just cuz I'm from the Maritimes.

A red flag. (1.57 / 7) (#19)
by Arkayne on Fri May 16, 2003 at 01:56:14 PM EST

Are we to believe that a scientific report entitled "A letter to nature" is not going to be just a little biased?

That would be "Nature" ... (5.00 / 4) (#21)
by Simon Kinahan on Fri May 16, 2003 at 02:11:36 PM EST

... pretty much the highest-status place to get papers in the natural sciences published. For quaint British reasons of some kind, all papers in "Nature" are technically letters to the editor.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Ahh.. (none / 0) (#22)
by Arkayne on Fri May 16, 2003 at 02:13:26 PM EST

I missed the capital letter, and assumed it was an open report to everyone.

Damn coffee - work faster, damn you.

[ Parent ]

Other flag.... (3.00 / 2) (#24)
by AnomymousCoward on Fri May 16, 2003 at 02:20:04 PM EST

The word "exploitation" is just as significant, if you're looking for some sort of bias.

Vobbo.com: video blogs made easy: point click smile
[ Parent ]
Exploitation is not necessarily... (4.00 / 2) (#34)
by idiot boy on Fri May 16, 2003 at 04:30:27 PM EST

Pejoritive. It can be a positive. Di ctionary.com (don't have the OED at home) have three seperate definitions, only one of which is possibly negative.

The other is:

"To employ to the greatest possible advantage"

The language does not necessarily therefore indicate bias.

--
Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself
[ Parent ]

Indeed (4.00 / 1) (#38)
by bzbb on Fri May 16, 2003 at 06:20:36 PM EST

Indeed, exploitation is a term used by natural resource managament people in reference to a management method.
-- It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds."

Samuel Adams
[ Parent ]

Your .sig (none / 0) (#88)
by flo on Mon May 19, 2003 at 01:43:17 AM EST

You may want to separate your .sig from the body of your text in some way.
---------
"Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
[ Parent ]
also, what matters is (4.66 / 3) (#41)
by SocratesGhost on Fri May 16, 2003 at 09:06:46 PM EST

whether the "bias" he has is reasonable. I have a bias against lighting myself on fire; his bias may be similarly derived. He did, after all, study the matter. When I study things, I tend to draw conclusions.

-Soc
I drank what?


[ Parent ]
i dont care (1.83 / 12) (#23)
by turmeric on Fri May 16, 2003 at 02:17:44 PM EST

im a vegetarian.

We already KNEW you were an idiot. -nt (1.00 / 1) (#27)
by Kasreyn on Fri May 16, 2003 at 03:51:43 PM EST

nt means NO TEXT
"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Cannibal. <nt> (5.00 / 5) (#31)
by Dr Caleb on Fri May 16, 2003 at 04:14:26 PM EST


Baroque: [Bar-oak] (adj.) (s.) ; What you are when you have no Monet.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

How enlightening [n/t] (none / 0) (#83)
by OddFox on Sun May 18, 2003 at 07:34:46 PM EST

n/t

--------------------------

"No escape from the mass mind rape
Play it again jack and then rewind the tape
" - RATM


[ Parent ]
vegetarian (none / 0) (#126)
by eht on Mon May 19, 2003 at 09:30:42 PM EST

vegetables have feelings too you know

besides which, if you take a field and feed it to cows then kill the cows you kill a lot less animals than taking the field and harvesting it by machines, threshers kill millions of mice to get you your bread, and cows eat stuff people won't or can't eat

[ Parent ]

vegetarian (none / 0) (#172)
by gks on Sat May 24, 2003 at 03:33:03 AM EST

just because you do not eat meat doesn't mean that you don't need animals.

The ocean needs to be more or less balanced.

[ Parent ]

Maybe. (3.50 / 6) (#25)
by theNote on Fri May 16, 2003 at 02:41:32 PM EST

Maybe the people they studied were just bad fishermen.

You think you're joking (3.75 / 4) (#46)
by rusty on Sat May 17, 2003 at 12:29:02 AM EST

But you're so not.

In fact, the bulk of northeastern US fisheries management policy for the last decade has been based on one study where a bunch of scientists (who had never fished for a living) went out with equipment they didn't know how to use and, wonder of wonders, failed to catch anything. Did they conclude that they didn't know jack shit about fishing? No, they concluded that there weren't any fish left.

This is why fishermen throughout New England have been driven out of business, and out of their livelihood. This idiotic farce is finally coming to light. But it sounds like now we've got another glory-scientists who wants to repeat the same mistake for the whole world. What a great thing that'll be.

I guess the only question I have for all the people who are really excited by this is, do you believe everything a statistician tells you?

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

three statisticians went duck hunting.... (5.00 / 5) (#47)
by pb on Sat May 17, 2003 at 01:59:11 AM EST

...and a duck flew by.

The first statistician missed, shooting about a foot about the duck.

The second statistician missed as well, by about a foot below the duck.

And the third statistican said WE GOT IT!

...that having been said, it sounds like this is based on considerably more research than you're mentioning, so we'll see...
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]

These aren't statisticians (none / 0) (#57)
by transport on Sat May 17, 2003 at 11:14:17 AM EST

These people are from:
Biology Department, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 4J1
(Quote from original article, for Nature's subscribers)
Sure, it's still statistics...
 
BTW, about your anecdote - do you blame the scientists (well, of course), the mangement for basing their work on too little and too bad information, or the fishermen, for assuming their management stay incompetent?

[ Parent ]
Blame (4.40 / 5) (#59)
by rusty on Sat May 17, 2003 at 11:30:39 AM EST

Oh, there's plenty of blame to go around for everyone in the fisheries management tragedy.
  • The scientists: For being, on the whole, ignorant and cocky and ignoring to the point of hostility anything that a fisherman ever told them, assuming it was all just lies because fishermen want to kill every living thing in the ocean.
  • The fishermen: For being, on the whole, ignorant and hostile and cutting the scientists out of any possibility of cooperative work toward a better solution.
  • The managers: For being, on the whole, ignorant and remote from the reality of the situation, legislating mainly on the basis of one or two studies which were scientifically suspect at best, and for being so easily convinced that fishermen were in fact mass-murderes of the sea instead of people who know better than anyone else that if all the fish die, they're all out of jobs.
This is finally starting to change a little, with some scientists actually forming functional relationships with fishermen so they can learn what the situation really is. I suspect this glory-hound won't help any of that. For such a long time fishermen have refused to let a scientist anywhere near them, because all scientists ever did was scream that the sky was falling and the end was nigh. There is a really deep distrust between the two camps, and meanwhile no one really knows what the state of fish stocks are. The fishermen offer anecdotal evidence that things are as good as they've ever been, the scientists offer weak statistical evidence that everything is dead down there, and policymakers don't know what to think.

If you don't live somewhere where fishing is a major industry it's pretty easy to not realize what an incredibly contentious and divisive issue this whole thing is. This new report just makes me sad, as a renewed burst of anti-fishing hysteria is likely to cause more problems than it solves.

I'm sorry, by the way, to be glossing all of this so quickly without providing any links or evidence, but this is all from memory of talking about this stuff with friends, and doing the research would be more effort than I'm prepared to commit to a comment at the moment. It's probably make a good article though. Maybe I should sic imrdkl on it. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Hysteria (5.00 / 4) (#63)
by Matrix on Sat May 17, 2003 at 12:24:23 PM EST

Hysteria seems to be the problem all along. The fishermen are hysterical about having to learn something new or change the way they do things. The scientists are hysterical about the possible damage. The politicans are hysterical about getting re-elected.

However, this guy's not a glory hound, nor is he being hysterical. He's actually got quite a well-reasoned study of the decline in total biomass, the maturity/size of caught fish, general populations, etc. based (IIRC) on industry figures, the ones produced by the fishermen themselves, over the past 50 years. I'm sure there's room for error either way in his data, and even he points out that its only 50 years. Figurtes for the Maritime region for the last three hundred would be nice, but the English and French weren't very picky about tracking numbers - they just wanted fish.

Oh, and remember that lobster used to be so common that the well-off would never lower themselves so far as to eat it. Now its a luxury food, or very close.

I'm saying this from almost total ignorance, but stopping fishing seems like it'd be at least as disruptive as keeping going - after all, we'd be removing a big predator from the system. What we need is to fish sensibly, which means monitoring stocks, tracking reproduction rates, and generally trying to get a better understanding of what exactly is going on under the waves.


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Lobstery (none / 0) (#80)
by rusty on Sun May 18, 2003 at 08:15:00 AM EST

Oh, and remember that lobster used to be so common that the well-off would never lower themselves so far as to eat it. Now its a luxury food, or very close.

That has nothing to do with the quantity available. In fact, all studies and industry figures indicate that after all the lobstering we've done, there are more lobster out there now than there have ever been.

The thing with lobster is that you can't eat them after they've died. So in the past, they were basically unsellable outside the immediate port where they were caught. They were economically unviable, and therefore mainly served as cheap food for poor fishermen and industrial uses (like prisons and such). Our shipping skills have gotten better, so now you can get live lobster out to the world, and it turns out the world has quite a taste for it.

All that aside, the study itself is basically over my head. I don't know whether to believe it or not, or what the problems might be, or if there are any. What worries me is that the team behind it have organized this media campaign, and recommend stopping or drastically reducing fishing, which doesn't square with what I knew about the situation before.

My main point is that one study that says something dramatic about fishing should be taken with a huge grain of salt, given the history of the issue. Most of the readers here, with little knowlege of the fishing industry's history and a lot of faith in capital-S Science seem to be buying the whole thing (ahem) "hook, line and sinker." :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Interesting... (none / 0) (#81)
by Matrix on Sun May 18, 2003 at 12:30:42 PM EST

I never knew that about lobsters. We'd always been taught here that the lobseter became a luxury food as supply dwindled and difficulty of obtaining them increased. So the poor could no longer afford to rely on them for food, and the rich could enjoy them as a rare delicacy. I must admit, the ease of transportation seems to make much more sense.

As others have said elsewheres, I don't think anyone can in good conscience suggest halting the small costal fishery. They're generally the most responsible, and while they have led to a depletion, I don't think there's any evidence for the sort of serious depletion the report is talking about until about 50 years ago, when heavily industrialized fishing started. This means (AFAIK) factory ships and such. And most of their production goes into things that have, and this is important, no trace of fish whatsoever.

In general, some sort of nature monitoring/conservation program is needed to watch and make sure we aren't overstressing the system. And find out exactly how the system works anyway. Just pulling as much out as we can and assuming there'll always be more is not a good idea.


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Factory ships (none / 0) (#82)
by rusty on Sun May 18, 2003 at 01:31:06 PM EST

I'd be as happy as anyone to see factory ships banned outright. There's a pretty clear delineation between responsible managed use of the ocean as a resource (i.e. coastal fishing operations) and massive factory boats that stay out for six months at a time, scoop up anything and everything that happens to be nearby, and offload canned product. There are industrial-scale lobstering operations that threaten to overturn the success of decades of careful lobster stock management (and put all the family lobstering operations out of business) as well.

I think we mainly agree, in that fishing as an industry is seriously threatened on several fronts (not the least of which is regulatory) and something probably needs to be done. I think that just about everyone agrees on that, actually. It's just that what needs to be done is still extremely murky.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

A sound rebuttal would be nice (5.00 / 1) (#66)
by tetsuwan on Sat May 17, 2003 at 05:24:37 PM EST

I was actually hoping that somebody post a decent "this is wrong and here's why". Imrdkl is probably the best for that kind of thing. But still, when I look at the graphs, they look pretty damn convincing. The may of course be chosen for greatest impact. Why 1952, 58, 64 and 80 in the color coded map? It doesn't say.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

woops (4.00 / 2) (#92)
by fhotg on Mon May 19, 2003 at 04:29:32 AM EST

A sound rebuttal of a Nature - article on K5. Aren't you a bit overoptimistic about the quality of content here ?

[ Parent ]
Perhaps, (none / 0) (#97)
by tetsuwan on Mon May 19, 2003 at 04:59:10 AM EST

but one could hope for an educated alternative opinion.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

You paint it (none / 0) (#93)
by fhotg on Mon May 19, 2003 at 04:47:25 AM EST

as if the fishermen/fishing industry and the scientists had similarly valid claims to "tell what's really going on".

Firstly, we're talking about a global phenomenon, about which some local fish-industry can tell as much as the gas station guy, although they probably often know more about local fish populations than the science guy.

If you as a non-expert are presented with contrary "evidence" on a matter, are you going to believe the camp which says A because their income depends on it, or the camp B which is composed of heavily competing people who ideally are paid for finding out whats true, no matter what it is ? In reality they have to get funding from somewhere, and the industry-camp tries hard to buy them.

[ Parent ]

The sky really is falling (none / 0) (#99)
by Amorsen on Mon May 19, 2003 at 06:01:18 AM EST

I used to be a bit sceptic about the claims from biologists about overfishing. Not anymore. The cod has been hit very hard. The concept that it is possible to catch significantly more than half of the cod in the ocean is staggering to me.

[ Parent ]
Basically, what you're saying is: (none / 0) (#48)
by tetsuwan on Sat May 17, 2003 at 02:05:35 AM EST

The Japanese can't fish. I double that.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Has the price of fish started rising? (1.27 / 11) (#26)
by rujith on Fri May 16, 2003 at 03:10:56 PM EST

Until then, I don't care about it. - Rujith.

Yes, fish prices are rising sharply (4.00 / 1) (#98)
by Amorsen on Mon May 19, 2003 at 05:54:14 AM EST

At least here in Denmark.

[ Parent ]
In related news: My fish... (4.00 / 4) (#32)
by Vs on Fri May 16, 2003 at 04:22:18 PM EST

...is coming half way around the world: Today the menu said "Hokifish", which gets shipped up here from around New Zealand because it's cousin around here has been depleted, pardon, I mean, "optimized". I don't dig on cafeteria food any more, though. I gues sometimes Adbusters with their 'true cost groceries' have a point.
--
Where are the immoderate submissions?
Just between you and me (2.40 / 10) (#33)
by JayGarner on Fri May 16, 2003 at 04:28:35 PM EST

Dynamite is the way to go. You stun the fish, they float, you scoop them up.

Also you sometimes can use low power explosives to just kind of slow the fish down. Then you take business associates to the lake with you the next day, and because the fish are still in a daze, they're much more likely to bite.

This is good for business. These potential clients are so happy with their fishing luck it makes them feel confident and it's easier to win them over. We got lots of big contracts that way.

Yes, fishing.

-1 Bias (1.68 / 16) (#36)
by CmdrTroll on Fri May 16, 2003 at 05:46:48 PM EST

If you want to pretend to take a scientific approach to a subject, it helps to avoid using loaded terms like "exploitation."

I know you think capitalism is the root of all evil right now, but it's never too early to start thinking about who's going to be putting food on your table once you leave your mother's teet. Chances are their name ends in "Corp." or "Inc." If a fishing company can't sell fish, they're not going to be able to hand you a paycheck either. Outlaw every legitimate business activity on nonsensical "environmental grounds" and you and your commie friends are not going to have anywhere to work when you grow up.

Exploitation (5.00 / 9) (#37)
by bzbb on Fri May 16, 2003 at 06:17:46 PM EST

As a natural resources major, I can tell you that exploitation is a valid term for the subject of natural resources managment, and it refers to the managment of natural resources with little to no focus on conservation, or preservation, and is focused on maximising short term profits.
-- It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds."

Samuel Adams
[ Parent ]

exactly (none / 0) (#107)
by turmeric on Mon May 19, 2003 at 12:39:07 PM EST

these liberals are al born with a silver spon in their mouth' oh save the fucking whales'.. i dont give a fuck about the whales ig ive a fuck about my kids and wife! i have to feed them!
<p>
now maybe, the fish will run out in 5 years and there wont be anymore. so what? we might all be dead in 5 years anyways. especially with all this SARS going around.
<p>
by then we will have figured out some other way to make a living. we who actually work that is, not these stupid liberals.

[ Parent ]
Completely unbiased (none / 0) (#167)
by wilson on Wed May 21, 2003 at 03:13:17 PM EST

If "exploitation" is a loaded word, then you're the one loading it.

Though it might be used by environmentalist critics of some industries, it is also used by members of those industries themselves - at least those I've been exposed to personally. The petroleum, timber, and real-estate development industries routinely refer to exploiting a resource and they certainly do not mean it as an indictment of their own behavior.

It simply means to make use of available resources. It does not imply abuse or irresponsibility of stewardship. There is neither a moral nor quantitative aspect to the word; that comes through context.

Even the most conservative (perhaps especially the most conservative) of policy reports on resource issues will use the word exploitation.

[ Parent ]

Two birds with one stone. (1.00 / 6) (#39)
by Apuleius on Fri May 16, 2003 at 08:04:30 PM EST

There's an easy way to help at least some of the predator species recover: give up on the lethal injection method of execution and make the motherfuckers walk the plank. Naked.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
I agree, This is a serious problem (4.00 / 5) (#40)
by HidingMyName on Fri May 16, 2003 at 08:13:35 PM EST

This information is not a joke, these guys are serious world class researchers, and the real problem is that it isn't just that there are a few over fished spots, but that the overfishing is global (ALL spots are overfished). Some serious problems that can arise are selection for smaller adult size (if you take all the big fish out, who is going to breed?), loss of genetic diversity that accompanies small populations (making the susceptible to disease and mutation). There has to be some serious thought about letting the fisheries recover.

Dear sir (1.28 / 7) (#42)
by BankofNigeria ATM on Fri May 16, 2003 at 09:53:18 PM EST

Do you know why us Scandinavians are so tall and healthy? It's the cod we eat, dammit! Very tasty too.

FOR A GOOD TIME, AIM ME AT: Nigerian ATM

Natural Selection (1.60 / 10) (#43)
by ComradeFork on Fri May 16, 2003 at 10:07:23 PM EST

In a competitive market, the efficient firms live, and the inefficient firms die.

This isn't only a law of Economics, its also the law of Natural Selection. We can protect these pathetic fish, or we can do the world a favour, and eat them all. We cannot be to blame if they are destroyed- We are merely trying to improve efficiency.

And don't use your PETA arguments on me, because fish are too tasty for that.

PETA arguments? (none / 0) (#45)
by jpmorgan on Fri May 16, 2003 at 11:49:35 PM EST

People for the Eating of Tasty Animals?

[ Parent ]
That's the one! (none / 0) (#65)
by mcgrew on Sat May 17, 2003 at 03:15:11 PM EST

My fave

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Natural Selection... (none / 0) (#145)
by trane on Tue May 20, 2003 at 09:24:02 AM EST

is just an observed phenomenon. Once we realize the mechanism, we don't have to submit to it. The ability of humans to modify the environment means we can change the rules of natural selection, if we wish. We can let natural selection run its course and continue depleting species of fish (and other animals, trees, etc.), saying "that's nature", or we can use technology to come up with other solutions, such as: artificially breeding fish, cloning, developing artificial fish-tasting substances, whatever...

[ Parent ]
This isn't efficient. (none / 0) (#154)
by melia on Tue May 20, 2003 at 11:10:36 AM EST

Overfishing is not efficient. It would be far more efficient to manage the fish so that we could eat them for perpetuity. An efficient firm is not one that destroys itself, is it?
Disclaimer: All of the above is probably wrong
[ Parent ]
for those who wonder why this matters (2.50 / 6) (#49)
by auraslip on Sat May 17, 2003 at 03:28:50 AM EST

If we eat all the big fish what will the sharks eat? Nothing they will die. The smaller fish will have no predatora and over produce untill they all starve. They will die. The plankton and bacteria will have no predators and also die. The whales will die too. And since most of earths oxygen is produced by bacteria in the ocean, we will also die.
The end.

http://luna.pos.to/whale/icr_pub_fish.html
124

That's not quite right (5.00 / 3) (#72)
by hex11a on Sat May 17, 2003 at 07:25:45 PM EST

If there aren't the small fish out there for the big fish to eat, then yes, the sharks die. But the small fish are not going to overproduce, because if they were producing massively the sharks would not die, and so if the sharks die it's an indication that there are not a lot of small fish. Also starvation does not happen in this manner - if there is a limited food supply then a limited number of small fish will survive - they won't all die. No predators does not lead to death - it leads to an expansion until a limit is reached and then competition for the resource - some will get it, others not.

It's a bad thing (TM) but it's not going to cause the end of human life through suffocation. We might want to consider the impact on the fishing industry in the mid/long term if we overfish now, for in our model we suddenly appear to be an uber-predator and wipe out vast numbers of small fish, and so not many small fish reproduce, leading to a lack of small fish for us to fish in the future, and this is what's most likely to affect us.

Hex

[ Parent ]

not really (4.00 / 1) (#76)
by the sixth replicant on Sun May 18, 2003 at 05:52:38 AM EST

because the shark would have became extinct (in the worse case senario). So their will be no dynamic cycle of predator populations following prey populations, since there will be no predators to breed up the populations because of increased prey/food supply.

In other words, after the big predators become completely extinct, the ecocycle of the the world's oceans will go completely haywire. And there will be no way of going back.

Now this is the killer: This is what the report predicts: Extinction of the big predators.

And a good job was done of it. 100% well researched data. That is : WAKE UP and stop piss farting around. STOP OVER FISHING.

Now is anyone listening........:)

ciao

[ Parent ]

The comment to which I replied (none / 0) (#78)
by hex11a on Sun May 18, 2003 at 06:45:45 AM EST

was talking about human suffocation as a result. This is simply not true. Also, if the sharks die out, it's because there are not enough small fish for them to eat. This means that we, the humans, are catching almost ALL of the small fish, hence there will be no population explosion, it's just that the shark has been replaced by a new top level predator. Yes, sharks and other big fish will die out, but it won't destroy the world, or even the lower echelons of the food chain in the ocean, it will kill off the higher level predators, which, although a terrible thing in itself, isn't as bad as what people are making out here. I maintain that the main problem we face is that of us reducing the numbers of small fish beyond a stable repopulation level.

Hex

[ Parent ]

What will the the sharks eat? (5.00 / 1) (#89)
by Wobbly Bob on Mon May 19, 2003 at 01:58:28 AM EST

If we eat all the big fish what will the sharks eat?

THEY'LL EAT PEOPLE!!! PEEEEEOPLLLE!!!

[ Parent ]

Menhaden (5.00 / 8) (#50)
by Shren on Sat May 17, 2003 at 07:17:53 AM EST

The big fish are important, of course. But when I worry about fish, I worry about the Menhaden.

Menhaden Discover Article Mirror

Moritorium (4.50 / 2) (#51)
by pyro9 on Sat May 17, 2003 at 07:45:42 AM EST

As someone who likes to eat fish, I would rather do without for a few years than see them wiped out. It wouldn't even have to be total abstainance since some fish are farm raised, and if given no option, commercial operations will quickly resort to farming for other species as well.

I am not at all fond of putting fishermen out of work, but in this case, natural consequences will do it perminantly if no action is taken. One solution utilizing economics would be to tax catches at a rate that makes farm raising fish more profitable.


The future isn't what it used to be
A more proper solution (none / 0) (#53)
by sdem on Sat May 17, 2003 at 10:30:51 AM EST

If you're going to solve it economically, you could also use the free market principle of private property. Just devise a method of partitioning the ocean's resources and end the shared resource crisis.

"the troll band is a cross between mr. rogers neighorhood and riker's island" - tacomacide
[ Parent ]
enforcability (none / 0) (#119)
by pyro9 on Mon May 19, 2003 at 08:07:37 PM EST

That may be a good idea in some cases, except that the fish won't likely cooperate. They tend to wander all over, and even cross the ocean during migrations, so overfishing on your lot won't mean much more than overfishing in general. I don't know which (if any) species stay in one place.


The future isn't what it used to be
[ Parent ]
Great (none / 0) (#146)
by trane on Tue May 20, 2003 at 09:33:27 AM EST

So there would be "No trespassing" signs all over the oceans.

[ Parent ]
Knee-jerk... (none / 0) (#168)
by Francis on Thu May 22, 2003 at 04:40:58 PM EST

I think we should be careful about how impactful the solution to these problems is on people in the fishing industry. To simply ban commercial fishing for "x" years would essentially mean the annihilation of entire communities. In Alaska, for instance, commercial fishing is the single largest industry in the state. You could say, quite literally, that eliminating fishing would cause the economic collapse of a state (perhaps outside of the North Slope oil reserves). And it is not only fishermen, but also canneries and fish processing plants, not to mention the reliance on sport-fishing to draw tourists to the state.

One solution utilizing economics would be to tax catches at a rate that makes farm raising fish more profitable.

Farm fishing is already significantly more profitable than most commercial wild fisheries. That is largely the reason that there is federal subsidies available for fishermen. The overhead of operating a commercial fishing vessel is enormous, and aquaculture has meant a drastic reduction in the price that commercial fishermen are paid for their catch, making it increasingly difficult, and in some cases impossible, to turn a profit. There are some commercial fisheries in Alaska that are going "bottom-up" as a result of these forces.

There is a balance to be struck between managing these fisheries prudently so as to allow for a steady comeback, while at the same time allowing the fishing community to avoid going under. You are right to suggest that the time of the "boom" of fishing is over; fishermen are never agian going to be able to rake in the money as they did 20-30 years ago (nor should they be able to), and I think that by and large they understand this. It is their future, after all, that is at stake.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Insults are the first and last arguments of fools. -- Unknown
[ Parent ]

transition (none / 0) (#173)
by pyro9 on Sun May 25, 2003 at 04:41:30 PM EST

I hadn't been aware of the subsidies. Those are problematic as it seems they are promoting an activity that is uneconomic and unsustainable at the same time. Beyond that it represents unfair competition for aquaculture (being more economically efficient and sustainable, it deserves the economic benefit) Perhaps restructuring the subsidies so that the fishermem have the resources needed to either start up aquaculture or find another line of work.

It's a tough problem in that suddenly cutting off the subsidies and instituting a ban will bring localized disaster, and leaving things as they are will simply slow down the disaster and decimate the fish as well. In any event, the towns based on only fishing will have the tough problem of either finding a new industry that can support them or drying up.


The future isn't what it used to be
[ Parent ]
Some amplification (none / 0) (#174)
by Francis on Sun May 25, 2003 at 09:30:54 PM EST

I may have misspoken when I referred to them as "subsidies." Commercial fishermen are now receiving tax-incentives to compensate them for some of their overhead in the operation of their vessel--for instance for some of the Lifesaving equipment. That is not quite the same as saying that they are receiving "subsidies." That was my fault for choosing my words poorly.

And yes, I agree that there needs to be a transition of sorts. I think the industrial fishing industry's activity should be on the decline, and should eventually reach a point where it is at some sort of equilibrium with the ocean's ability to replenish itself, but I feel that this transition should be painfully slow, so that it is not painfully quick, if you get my meaning.

Unfortunately, aquaculture is not yet ready to take over the burden of feeding the world's appetite for fish; though I think it will ultimately come to that. There are serious environmental implications involved with fish farming, and in some cases, aquaculture has been shown to speed to demise of some wild fish species. Not to mention that farmed fish have been shown to be genetically inferior, more susceptible to disease, less tasty, and less healthy than wild fish. There really does need to be a lot more research and development done before we start thinking about turning to farming.

Perhaps restructuring the subsidies so that the fishermen have the resources needed to either start up aquaculture or find another line of work.

Unfortunately, aquaculture, unlike commercial fishing, is not very labor intensive, so there is no way that the fish-farming industry is going to be able to absorb the mass exodus of displaced fishermen over the next 15-20 yrs. But I very much agree with you that there needs to be some benefit or subsidies system to help fishermen transition into other fields. It's funny you should mention it, because there actually is a federal program to help out-of-work fishermen pay for their continuing education to help get them some marketable skill outside of fishing, and I have known of a couple of fishermen to take advantage of it.

It's a tough problem in that suddenly cutting off the subsidies and instituting a ban will bring localized disaster...

Indeed. It is always tough to make national policy when the stakes are so localized, no matter how acute or disastrous the consequences may be to that locality.

In any event, the towns based on only fishing will have the tough problem of either finding a new industry that can support them or drying up.

True. It's already happening. The town where I live has relied on commercial fishing for over 100 years (not to mention sustenance fishing for hundreds of years). It is slowly sinking in here that it is changing: fishing boats are for sale, fishermen are looking for other means or are trying to get Captain's Licenses from the Coast Guard so that they can operate charters, etc. It is bleak, and they know it is bleak. Unfortunately for them, it is not all about numbers and dollars and ecology; it is about a way of life. And for many of them it was the way of their father and their grandfather... Not to get too sentimental about it, but I lament the fact that history, or civilization, seems once again to be mowing down one of more romantic occupations.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Insults are the first and last arguments of fools. -- Unknown
[ Parent ]

Background (2.50 / 2) (#52)
by psychophil on Sat May 17, 2003 at 09:16:39 AM EST

So where can we find some info on who actually funded this study?

After seeing so many bogus 'studies' being bought by microsoft, I tend to not believe what I read until I know the source of the money that paid for it. More often than not, the results come out in favor of the money source.

Where the money comes from: (5.00 / 1) (#61)
by tetsuwan on Sat May 17, 2003 at 11:45:02 AM EST

  1. Pew Charitable trusts
  2. Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Research Council of Germany)
  3. National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Further (5.00 / 4) (#55)
by Wespee on Sat May 17, 2003 at 10:45:42 AM EST

Here's a link to the PDF of the whole paper--with the free "subscription" at the Nature site, one can only read the abstract:

PDF Copy of the paper

Paul



Nice job, thanks! [n/t] (none / 0) (#56)
by tetsuwan on Sat May 17, 2003 at 11:05:31 AM EST


Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

And remember (1.66 / 3) (#58)
by jayhawk88 on Sat May 17, 2003 at 11:28:40 AM EST

Thursday is Green Day.

Why, then, should we grant government the Orwellian capability to listen at will and in real time to our communications across the Web? -- John Ashcroft
This Could All Be Halted (3.50 / 2) (#64)
by Baldrson on Sat May 17, 2003 at 01:05:43 PM EST

Open ocean aquaculture technologies, such as Itsazi's blue fin tuna ship could stop this depletion of large fish now if capitalized by folks who claim they are "enlightened".

I don't think they are enlightened at all.

This stuff has been possible for decades.

-------- Empty the Cities --------


Some Aquaculture issues (4.66 / 3) (#67)
by HidingMyName on Sat May 17, 2003 at 05:41:48 PM EST

I'm not sure about Tuna and open water aquaculture, but farm raised fish requires significant biomass to feed the fish. This report indicates that it takes as much as 4 pounds of protein (from sardines, anchovies and other species) to get 1 pound of farm raised fish (salmon).

[ Parent ]
Yup (5.00 / 1) (#69)
by tetsuwan on Sat May 17, 2003 at 06:09:55 PM EST

This is what Norwegian Big Fish does. They take most of overall yield from the South American west coast to culture salmon.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Conservation of Mass (5.00 / 2) (#70)
by Matrix on Sat May 17, 2003 at 06:21:30 PM EST

Right, but that's always the case - that its going to take more to produce less. The questions are:

  • How useable are the waste products? Can they, through whatever process, be recycled into food again? (IE, bacteria plus sunlight to smaller fish to yatta to farmed salmon)
  • Are the resources used in raising the fish usable by humans? Are they better used by humans, or by the fish? Are there resources humans can't use but these fish can? (EG, other sources of protein)
  • How efficient are the fish?
  • Is it better to farm, or to use a sensible fishing policy and let nature do the farming for us?

Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Control == Accountability (none / 0) (#77)
by Baldrson on Sun May 18, 2003 at 06:35:03 AM EST

The problem with that argument against aquaculture is that greater control means greater accountability. You have a choice of what to feed the fish you are in control of raising and are there fore accountable for that decision. You have no choice of what to feed the fish you are not in control of raising.

Apparently the sockeye salmon population is exploding due to an increase in algae growth consequent to global warming. Some construction workers I know from the San Juan Islands who have fairly good relations with the local Amerindians that catch the sockeye (and therefore get good prices on much of the catch) claim the fact that sockeye salmon are fattened on algae rather than other fish means their meat is far more in demand -- not by environmentalists but by conissours of salmon. They say once you taste algae fattened sockeye you don't want to go back to king salmon.

Algae is vastly more efficient than soybeans at producing protein per acre -- something like 20 times more efficient if the Earthrise Farms guys I visited in Imperial Valley are to be believed. Furthermore it produces a lot more of the omega-3 fatty acids that are all the rage these days among high protein fish oil dieters.

The logical move for aquaculturalists is therefore to start culturing algae -- probably spirulina -- and feeding it to sockeye salmon they're raising.

The accountants will smile on such aquaculture ships.

-------- Empty the Cities --------


[ Parent ]

No. (3.00 / 2) (#102)
by Eivind on Mon May 19, 2003 at 07:05:27 AM EST

Actually fish-farming is very efficient, much MUCH more so than say raising cows or pigs or whatever for meat.

In Norwegian salmon-farms food-conversion ratios of more than 1 are common, and up to about 1.2 have been observed. In other words, you feed the fish 1kg of food, and the fish grows MORE than a kg.

This is offcourse only possible because the typical food is dried and high-energy while the finished fish is mostly (as in 80%+) water. Still, compared to raising cows or pigs it's very very VERY efficient.

[ Parent ]

water != food (none / 0) (#125)
by eht on Mon May 19, 2003 at 09:25:48 PM EST

it's not very efficient if i don't want to eat water

[ Parent ]
Another fish farm issue (none / 0) (#162)
by Cheetah on Tue May 20, 2003 at 03:59:51 PM EST

I have been told (would appreciate it if someone could dig up a link to some hard facts; it makes logical sense though) that fish farms have to be moved around constantly, because of the effluent from the high density of fish inside them.  The excrement from the fish falls down and kills everything underneath it.  This seems to me to be trading one ecological problem for another one that is potentially just as bad.

Some links about this aspect of the farms from Google:
Moreton Bay
Broughton Archipelago

[ Parent ]

Some other aquaculture issues... (none / 0) (#165)
by Francis on Wed May 21, 2003 at 05:50:47 AM EST

I agree with you that exploitation of aquaculture is ultimately necessary to satiate the world's demand for fish, but there are some serious considerations. Some farmed fisheries are actually increasing the likelihood of the reduction or extinction of wild fisheries, like Canada's ill-fated salmon farming endeavors on the coast of BC.

There are also the pollutants and effluents released from ocean farming operations. Not to mention the escaped fish--which are genetically inferior and have been fed antibiotics, pesticides and other drugs--that mix with and weaken the wild stocks.

Aquaculture will be important to our future, but we will need to be very careful to develop effective and safe methods of doing it...
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Insults are the first and last arguments of fools. -- Unknown
[ Parent ]

See separate thread (none / 0) (#166)
by Baldrson on Wed May 21, 2003 at 10:41:37 AM EST

Your concerns are legitimate and were addressed in this thread.

-------- Empty the Cities --------


[ Parent ]

Illuminating quote (4.00 / 2) (#79)
by tetsuwan on Sun May 18, 2003 at 06:56:49 AM EST

from BBC News Online:

Dr Myers:
For example, there were 200,000 large bluefin tuna removed from off the coast of Brazil in the first 15 years of the Japanese longline fishery and in the last 15 years off Brazil, with similar effort, the Japanese fishery has caught exactly zero fish.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance

Why didn't they give up? (none / 0) (#84)
by Repton on Sun May 18, 2003 at 10:12:34 PM EST

That sounds like a lot of money down the drain, spending 15 years in a commercial fishing enterprise without making any money whatsoever ...

--
Repton.
They say that only an experienced wizard can do the tengu shuffle..
[ Parent ]

Well (none / 0) (#96)
by tetsuwan on Mon May 19, 2003 at 04:57:24 AM EST

they probably fished other species as well.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

If it weren't for government regulation (1.00 / 1) (#85)
by medham on Sun May 18, 2003 at 10:55:19 PM EST

There wouldn't be an overfishing problem.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.

Maybe this is sarcastic... (none / 0) (#90)
by Blackstone on Mon May 19, 2003 at 02:08:57 AM EST

Maybe I missed the sarcasm in this post, but I've heard a lot of crazy things from the fisheries industry and fishers in the past. You think government regulation /caused/ overfishing? Isn't that sort of like saying that if murder wasn't illegal it wouldn't be a crime?

[ Parent ]
Look (2.00 / 2) (#91)
by medham on Mon May 19, 2003 at 03:59:53 AM EST

Government regulation of fishing is what causes overfishing. The "cure" causes the problem.

With only market pressures, the fishing industry would regulate itself perfectly. The constraints on competition are what force fisherman to deplete stocks unnecessarily.

It's part of the larger issue of environmental regulation. If we could extend property rights to cover the oceans, then the so-called "tragedy of the commons" would never be an issue, since any rational person would always act in his self-interest and would not overfish (or pollute, as the case may be).

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Bit simplistic.. (4.33 / 3) (#95)
by ajduk on Mon May 19, 2003 at 04:56:42 AM EST

Perhaps you should learn some economics.

There is this thing called a 'discount rate' commonly applied to economic decision making.  Basically, given a choice between taking a fish out of the sea and leaving it for a later date, you have to take it out unless you are sure that it will be worth more tomorrow (since fishing it out and putting the money in the bank earns interest).

So in the absence of any regulation, there is an incentive to catch as many fish as possable, as quickly as possable.  This applies to any resource with a finite replenishment rate.

It is, of course, worse than this.  Giving property rights over a particular stretch of ocean is fine, apart from the minor point that the fish don't know about it (never mind the nightmares of enforcement..).  So the only rational thing to do is strip your area of fish before thew swim next door and your neighbour does exactly the same thing.  The incentive to cheat is massive; if all of your neighbours stick to sustainable amounts and you don't, you gain from their fish AND the higher market price caused by their conservation - whilst all the time respecting their 'property rights'!

The only way to sustainably use a fishery is to assign monopoly rights to the entire fishery ecosystem, including breeding grounds, and taking all species into account, and apply (scientific) quotas for the entire fishery.  This must be done by a government agency, because even a private (for-profit) monopoly has an incentive to deplete the fishery thanks to discounting.  Catches must go through a limited number of ports, with anything over quota fined to the value of the extra fish caught (with dumping at sea met with a revoking of license).

[ Parent ]

Yes (none / 0) (#103)
by medham on Mon May 19, 2003 at 07:20:44 AM EST

Why don't you trying reading some serious economists such as Leonard Peikoff or Joseph Schumpeter?

If you had, you'd realize that your notions of economic behavior are aggressively anti-rational, whereas economic agents act always in a rational fashion. If they did not, then economic models would have no predictive capability at all; and it's not uncommon for economics PhDs to turn down ten or more job offers--not something you associate with a field that doesn't produce results.

You seem to have a nominalistic theory of economic behavior, thinking that rational agents act in ways predicted by economic theories because of the structure of those theories themselves rather than the theories revealing the essence of the world as it is. This is dubious epistemology, radically anti-objectivist and thus wrongheaded.

Furthermore, you have a primitive notion of property rights if you are thinking of segmented areas of the ocean. Clearly, ecological systems cannot be apportioned in such a manner. The rights to certain ecological systems themselves must be sold to private industry by the state in order to stave off government-induced fishery depletions. Ecosystems and markets are both homeostatic; it's dangerous and counter-empirical to believe that a monolithic state-interventionist regime can do anything but destroy either.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

No (none / 0) (#104)
by ajduk on Mon May 19, 2003 at 09:36:00 AM EST

If you had, you'd realize that your notions of economic behavior are aggressively anti-rational, whereas economic agents act always in a rational fashion.

We are just coming out of one of the most irrational stock market booms in history and you are telling me that economic agents are always reaional?

More seriously, if fishing all the fish out of the sea quickly and sticking the money in the bank provides a better financial return, then surely it is the economically rational thing to do.

If they did not, then economic models would have no predictive capability at all;

Well, they make lots of predictions. Some they even get right.

You seem to have a nominalistic theory of economic behavior, thinking that rational agents act in ways predicted by economic theories because of the structure of those theories themselves rather than the theories revealing the essence of the world as it is. This is dubious epistemology, radically anti-objectivist and thus wrongheaded.

Errr... Ok. What does this have to do with the argument?

The rights to certain ecological systems themselves must be sold to private industry by the state in order to stave off government-induced fishery depletions.

First demonstrate that the government has induced fishery depletion in the first place, and second, explain why private industry would do it any better.

Ecosystems and markets are both homeostatic;

Explain in what ways. Both can and have failed in the face of externialities.

it's dangerous and counter-empirical to believe that a monolithic state-interventionist regime can do anything but destroy either.

Why?

[ Parent ]

Again (none / 0) (#111)
by medham on Mon May 19, 2003 at 04:21:39 PM EST

Stock market behavior is perfectly rational; its a sum rationality that can be difficult to perceive unless you know how. Are you arguing that undiscovered mathematical proofs aren't yet rational?

A rational agent will not terminate all future earnings for short-term gain.

I've already demonstrated how government regulation depleted the stocks. If you still don't believe, consider that fishing stocks were not, by any measure, depleted before government regulation.

Nothing is external to the market.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Not to my satisfaction (none / 0) (#120)
by Maurkov on Mon May 19, 2003 at 08:23:37 PM EST

A rational agent will not terminate all future earnings for short-term gain.
A rational agent can realize a short-term gain and then move its capital elsewhere. This could maximize the agent's return on the capital, and therefore be the rational choice.
I've already demonstrated how government regulation depleted the stocks.
You have not demonstrated this to my satisfaction. Actually, I cant find anything but this fiat.
If you still don't believe, consider that fishing stocks were not, by any measure, depleted before government regulation.
While this is a lovely post hoc ergo proctor hoc, it is also wrong. According to the article, "Data from most of the northern hemisphere was excluded, since modern fishing methods have been in use for decades before scientific surveying began." So no, they were depleted before they were even being measured, let alone regulated.

Maurkov

[ Parent ]
It's highly unlikely (none / 0) (#123)
by medham on Mon May 19, 2003 at 08:59:55 PM EST

That there's anywhere near enough evidence to make a valid statistical inference on fishing stocks, but it's quite clear that the depletion of the world's fisheries has occurred during (and very likely because of) the regulatory period.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

I thought about that (none / 0) (#158)
by Maurkov on Tue May 20, 2003 at 01:23:45 PM EST

After I posted, I realized that without scientific measuring, it is impossible to prove my conclusion. You beat me to the retraction. Change "it is also wrong" to "it is also unproved."

So were you about to prove that all the depletion occurred post-regulation? You have not established that so far. You have not explained the mechanism by which regulation could cause depletion, let alone proved the causality. By all means say it over and over, but don't use that as a substitute for debate.

Maurkov

[ Parent ]
Aha! (none / 0) (#161)
by melia on Tue May 20, 2003 at 02:50:20 PM EST

[it's highly unlikely] That there's anywhere near enough evidence to make a valid statistical inference on fishing stocks

Then how does your neo-classical fisherman work out how much to fish in order to preserve the fish for the future? I thought he was omniscient?
Disclaimer: All of the above is probably wrong
[ Parent ]

Well, okay... (none / 0) (#124)
by Blackstone on Mon May 19, 2003 at 09:17:45 PM EST

Let's pretend for a moment that all economic actors do act rationally. And let's descend further into fantasy by imagining a pond with fish in it and two fishing boats -- Frank and Bob. There are twenty fish in the pond. If Frank and Bob are smart, they'll take ten fish, say, and leave the other ten so that they can reproduce and they have more fish next season.

The problem is that Bob and Frank can't talk to each other. They can't get together and make a real fisheries management scheme -- although a third party (government, anyone?) could. So Frank and Bob are faced with a dilemma: five fish is enough for each of them, but if there aren't going to be any fish next year, they'll need as many as they can get so that they can sell them and have some money for the time when their pond doesn't have any fish.

Bob and Frank are completely rational actors, but it would be irrational for a rational actor to assume that all other actors are also rational. There's no proof. And neither Bob nor Frank wants his family to starve next year because the other has taken all the fish.

So Bob and Frank try to catch as many fish as they can this year. They take more than the five they need -- and the five that would be sustainable -- because if they don't, they assume the other will. It's a perfect example of the Prisoner's Dilemma -- Frank and Bob engage in behaviour that will ultimately be mutually self-destructive out of fear.

If there was one fishing company in the world -- if the fisheries industry was one monolithic organization -- then perhaps it would be able to manage stocks for long-term gain. But without a third party to regulate fishing, even rational economic actors will fish the stocks to death before somebody else does. The problem is that single economic actors act subjectively rather than objectively -- since the market affects all of them differently, they must respond differently to market forces. "The market" is not one organism -- if it was, then it would see how silly it is to wipe out rainforests or fish all the fish -- but a collection of actors influenced by different market forces.

I'm worried that some of this is a little bit less than clear, so I'll try to boil it down. If all economic actors are rational, they will act to prolong their life in the marketplace as long as possible. But this means that these actors will favour their own short-term survival at the expense of their long-term survival or even the long-term survival of the industry. Rational, perhaps, but every economic actor must respond to different market stimuli.

[ Parent ]

You need (none / 0) (#131)
by medham on Tue May 20, 2003 at 04:12:58 AM EST

To read "Evolution of Cooperation in a Spatial Prisoner's Dilemma" by Albert Schweitzer, Laxmidhar Behera, and Heinz Muehlenbein, availabe from arxiv.

I'm pretty sure that it will clear up your confusions about economic rationality and choice theory.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Sigh (none / 0) (#130)
by ajduk on Tue May 20, 2003 at 03:52:36 AM EST

Stock market behavior is perfectly rational

Over sufficiently long time periods. Over short time periods, it can be decidedly irrational.

Are you arguing that undiscovered mathematical proofs aren't yet rational?

Are you asserting that the stock market will be mathmatically proven to be perfectly rational? It is hardly sound (or rational) to base you argument on a future event which may or may not happen.

A rational agent will not terminate all future earnings for short-term gain.

Yes they will, if the overall return is better. They would be economically irrational to do otherwise.

I've already demonstrated how government regulation depleted the stocks.

No, you've asserted it.

consider that fishing stocks were not, by any measure, depleted before government regulation.

Correlation does not, I'm sure you're aware, prove causation. And the whole original article had this:

An 80% decline in biomass typically occurred within 15 years of industrial exploitation. This is usually before scientific monitoring takes place

So the initial decline happens *before* regulation.

[ Parent ]

Are you saying (none / 0) (#133)
by medham on Tue May 20, 2003 at 04:14:02 AM EST

That basing an argument on induction is invalid? That's a pretty radical thesis. Can you offer any reasons why anyone should believe it?

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

No, (none / 0) (#151)
by ajduk on Tue May 20, 2003 at 10:07:08 AM EST

That basing an argument on induction is invalid?

No, I was saying that basing your argument on *presumed* future knowledge is a bit shaky. Actually, it's not just a bit shaky; it's generally called 'making things up out of nowhere'.

[ Parent ]

He's neo-classically rational... (none / 0) (#153)
by melia on Tue May 20, 2003 at 11:07:35 AM EST

...so he knows everything, including the probabilities of future events.
Disclaimer: All of the above is probably wrong
[ Parent ]
I'd noticed.. (n/t) (none / 0) (#156)
by ajduk on Tue May 20, 2003 at 11:40:18 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Why not? (none / 0) (#152)
by Happy Monkey on Tue May 20, 2003 at 11:06:22 AM EST

A rational agent will not terminate all future earnings for short-term gain.

They will if they don't plan to be around at that point. How many fishermen anticipate living long enough to see the ocean depleted? How many Easter Islanders expected that they would run out of trees until it was too late?
___
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
i think what you are forgetting (none / 0) (#105)
by turmeric on Mon May 19, 2003 at 12:36:52 PM EST

is that saddam hussein gassed his own people.
<p>
but i love your fighting for what is right. its like those dumbasses criticizing responsible capitalisms use of old growth and rainforests. no rational company would simple cut own all the trees and make a big short term profit at the cost of a sustainable long term business interest. that would be unrational! and yet, these liberals expect well trained highly educated business people to just throw the future to the wind and 'take the money/fish/trees and run', greedily.
obviously liberaltude has infested the minds of our young people and must be driven out.

[ Parent ]
You remind me (none / 0) (#112)
by medham on Mon May 19, 2003 at 04:22:06 PM EST

Of Grandma Moses

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

on the other hand (none / 0) (#106)
by turmeric on Mon May 19, 2003 at 12:37:34 PM EST

i think that government regulation should be abandoned for economics phds. let the marketplace decide what should be studied and what shouldnt. why do we need our tax dollars subsidizing intellectual curiosity at universities?

[ Parent ]
Perhaps (none / 0) (#113)
by medham on Mon May 19, 2003 at 04:22:30 PM EST

Even Le Douanier.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Perhaps you could summarize for us? (none / 0) (#108)
by Maurkov on Mon May 19, 2003 at 12:50:35 PM EST

Why don't you trying reading some serious economists such as Leonard Peikoff or Joseph Schumpeter?
ajduk's explanation is more convincing than your content-free appeal to authority.

[ Parent ]
Well, a couple of things (none / 0) (#114)
by medham on Mon May 19, 2003 at 04:24:16 PM EST

First, accusations of verecundiasticism have as their burden the proof of irrelevance, which you've scantly done, and the original poster pulled out his ad hominem card from the beginning ("you need to learn some economics," as if...)

Second, you have a strange idea of "content-free."

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

I'll try again (none / 0) (#118)
by Maurkov on Mon May 19, 2003 at 07:56:24 PM EST

First, assuming you spelled "verecundiasticism" correctly, you've stumped me, dictionary.com, m-w.com, and google. Forgive me for not addressing that portion of your comment.

I misspoke. While not content-free, your post completely avoided addressing adjuk's argument that, "in the absence of any regulation, there is an incentive to catch as many fish as [possible], as quickly as [possible]."

You replied:
Why don't you trying reading some serious economists such as Leonard Peikoff or Joseph Schumpeter?
This is the appeal to authority that I noted.
If you had, you'd realize that your notions of economic behavior are aggressively anti-rational, whereas economic agents act always in a rational fashion.
You are still appealing to that authority. I certainly don't buy it without some actual argumentation. As a counter example, Suzuki made the Swift, Firefly, Metro, and Sprint. When sold with identical features by different companies, they get different prices. The whole concept of branding flies in the face of those who claim consumers are rational.
If they did not, then economic models would have no predictive capability at all;
This is a false choice. Behavior that is irrational can still be predictable.
and it's not uncommon for economics PhDs to turn down ten or more job offers--not something you associate with a field that doesn't produce results.
That says a lot more about the supply of Econ PHD's than the demand, and still nothing about fish.
You seem to have a nominalistic theory of economic behavior, thinking that rational agents act in ways predicted by economic theories because of the structure of those theories themselves rather than the theories revealing the essence of the world as it is. This is dubious epistemology, radically anti-objectivist and thus wrongheaded.
Please. How does this address the argument?
Furthermore, you have a primitive notion of property rights if you are thinking of segmented areas of the ocean. Clearly, ecological systems cannot be apportioned in such a manner. The rights to certain ecological systems themselves must be sold to private industry by the state in order to stave off government-induced fishery depletions.
I don't think adjuk's suggestion of drawing lines in the water was a serious one (correct me if I'm wrong). However, I think you need more than one sentence to explain how you plan to partition an ecosystem as you sell it to private industry. How do you avoid a commons scenario?
Ecosystems and markets are both homeostatic; it's dangerous and counter-empirical to believe that a monolithic state-interventionist regime can do anything but destroy either.
I agree that sufficiently large ecosystems are homeostatic. However, without the machinations of a monolithic state-interventionist regime, markets tend to become dominated by monopolies. Is that the stasis you were contemplating? If so, hurray for the regime.

Now I dont care who started throwing around the ad homenims. Will you explain why Peikoff and Schumpeter are topical?

Maurkov

[ Parent ]
And (none / 0) (#122)
by medham on Mon May 19, 2003 at 08:57:57 PM EST

What's wrong with a monopoly?

Look up the latin name of the "false authority" argument.

The "tragedy of the commons" is pure propaganda. No empirical evidence has ever been given to demonstrate that it is the result of anything but the very regulation alleged to cure it.

Branding is perfectly rational behavior, on part of producers and consumers. You seem to confuse essence with identity. I'll buy Tylenol-brand acetomenaphin rather than generic because I trust their quality-control better and thus am willing to pay more for the benefit.

A network-model of ecosystem distribution would be in order. Many-linked hubs on the food-chain would have more market value (with their normal market value as a coefficient).

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

What's wrong with a monopoly? (none / 0) (#157)
by Maurkov on Tue May 20, 2003 at 01:05:01 PM EST

If there is a monopoly, prices are higher and output lower than if there is competition. Of all the vagaries of capitalism, this is one I do not tolerate.

The "tragedy of the commons" is pure propaganda. No empirical evidence has ever been given to demonstrate that it is the result of anything but the very regulation alleged to cure it.
Here's one. You have yet to demonstrate that the regulation is counter productive.
You seem to confuse essence with identity. I'll buy Tylenol-brand acetomenaphin rather than generic because I trust their quality-control better and thus am willing to pay more for the benefit.
Not at all. You fail to address my example, where a single manufacturer offers the identical item under different brands at different prices. For that matter, nearly 50 percent of generic drugs are made in brand-name facilities.
A network-model of ecosystem distribution would be in order. Many-linked hubs on the food-chain would have more market value (with their normal market value as a coefficient).
Can you give me a detailed example of this? I'm certain I can shred it, but I dont want to be accused of attacking a straw man.

Maurkov

[ Parent ]
A small complication (none / 0) (#115)
by tetsuwan on Mon May 19, 2003 at 06:08:25 PM EST

Economic agents are by no means human.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Is an army human? (none / 0) (#116)
by medham on Mon May 19, 2003 at 06:10:36 PM EST

Be careful with your answer.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Ah, so you admit to the possibility (none / 0) (#117)
by tetsuwan on Mon May 19, 2003 at 06:47:23 PM EST

that an economic action of a human being might be irrational?

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

You miss the point (none / 0) (#121)
by medham on Mon May 19, 2003 at 08:50:47 PM EST

Any non-rational economic actions are either noise or pathology.

I ask you to consider group behavior.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

So (none / 0) (#132)
by tetsuwan on Tue May 20, 2003 at 04:13:43 AM EST

appreciating anything else in life than maximized economic gain is pathological? Consider this: one of the reasons Sweden has a lower per capita income than the US is that we work fewer hours. I attribute this mostly to a lifestyle choice.

And of course there are the obvious examples of very stable suboptima. The bus ride downtown, a recap: if everyone else is taking the bus, you go 20 min faster by car, but if everyone's taking the car, traffic jam makes any mode of transport 15 min slower than the original bus ride. For a sum of rational agents, the traffic jam is very stable. Of course there are a couple of technical solutions (6 lanes instead of 3, separate bus line), but that is not the point - these kind of situations are fairly common. In everyday life we trust others not to take advantage of other peoples trust.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

I hate to keep this bringing this up (none / 0) (#134)
by medham on Tue May 20, 2003 at 04:15:31 AM EST

But why is Sweden's suicide rate the highest in the developed world, then? Perhaps you need to read The Soul of Man Under Socialism or, if you prefer a novelistic treatment, Atlas Shrugged.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

News flash (none / 0) (#135)
by tetsuwan on Tue May 20, 2003 at 06:49:04 AM EST

it isn't.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

If it isn't (none / 0) (#136)
by medham on Tue May 20, 2003 at 07:18:41 AM EST

Which I don't believe, then it's only because of Sweden's long-belated neoliberalization.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Well (none / 0) (#139)
by tetsuwan on Tue May 20, 2003 at 08:49:16 AM EST

reality tends to get in the way when trolling

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Then stop it , it's not true (none / 0) (#138)
by gabban on Tue May 20, 2003 at 07:56:19 AM EST

But why is Sweden's suicide rate the highest in the developed world, then?

It isn't. The suicide rate in Sweden is not much higher than that of the US.

A table of Suicide rates compiled by the World Health Organisation, Geneva, 2001, shows that while other Nordic and Baltic countries do show high rates of male suicide (e.g Lithuania, Estonia and Finland), Sweden does not exhibit an unusually high rate. Indeed France, New Zealand, Australia and Germany each show higher rates than Sweden. The Swedish rate is slightly higher than Canada and the USA perhaps but not the highest in the world. The myth of "Swedish suicide" has its roots in the late-1950s when the American President Dwight D. Eisenhower referred to it in a speech which had been based on an inaccurate briefing. The President had tried to paint a negative picture of Sweden, a nation which - with its cradle-to-grave socialism - had set itself on a post-war neutral stance outside the then embryonic-NATO and American influence. Ever since many people have accepted the picture as fact and perpetuate the myth.

Suicide rates per 100 000:
Japan 25.1 (1999)
Finland 23.4 (1999)
Sweden 13.9 (1998)
Canada 12.3 (1997)
USA 11.3 (1998)

The quote is from this page and you should really read it. Here is the WHO page.

[ Parent ]
Are you asking me (none / 0) (#140)
by medham on Tue May 20, 2003 at 08:56:13 AM EST

To believe that Dwight Eisenhower wasn't as well-informed as the WHO? Who're you going get your next stats from, the UN? Oxfam? Amnesty International?

And, assuming your stats are correct, Finland has supplanted Sweden in socialism.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Facts are stupid things (Ronald Reagan) (none / 0) (#148)
by gabban on Tue May 20, 2003 at 09:56:57 AM EST

No, you don't have to believe that. Silly me, believing that an American President could lie, be misinformed or just simply stretching the truth. What was I thinking :)

Furthermore, I was not aware of any lets-fake-the-suicide-figures-to-help-global-socialism-plans in the WHO. If you have more credible sources, do tell.

And with regards to Finland and socialism, there are a couple of other countries with even higher suicide rates. But I have to assume that you're trolling with the socialism causes suicide argument, so I'll stop here.

[ Parent ]
Behavioural Rationality (none / 0) (#141)
by melia on Tue May 20, 2003 at 08:59:37 AM EST

Neo-classical rationality is a bit of a limited tool to be using, it's not going to work in this case.

You seem to have a nominalistic theory of economic behavior, thinking that rational agents act in ways predicted by economic theories because of the structure of those theories themselves rather than the theories revealing the essence of the world as it is.

Any good economist would realise that economic theories do not "reveal the essence of the world".

Here's something from Herbert Simon for you to think about. The game of chess has no uncertainty involved whatsoever - every possible move can be mapped out in advance, this is (close to) the way Deep Blue plays chess. For a neo-classical man, there is no game - he has infinite cognitive capacity - so he can work out the whole game in advance. Is this realistic?

I have an article to be written on this subject, economic rationality has come up a few times.
Disclaimer: All of the above is probably wrong
[ Parent ]

Two things (none / 0) (#143)
by medham on Tue May 20, 2003 at 09:19:31 AM EST

The semicolon is your friend.

The computations involved in playing three sets of tennis far exceed those of computing every possible chess move, yet millions manage it everyday. Some do it better than others, but most all can do it. It's the same thing with economic rationality.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

So tell me (none / 0) (#149)
by melia on Tue May 20, 2003 at 10:00:51 AM EST

When you go to the supermarket, are you:
  1. Aware of every alternative good and the price at which it can be purchased in the world
  2. Able to calculate exactly the utility you will receive from each bundle (of the many millions of combinations in the world)
Neo-classical rational theory, while undoubtedly a useful tool in many cases, is not the truth. It's just a device that often comes up with the right results. If you think otherwise, you're a bit weird, to be honest.

Incidentally, do you really believe that when you play tennis it is a mathematical exercise? Don't you have rules of thumb which you play a game by? This is how Garry Kasparov plays chess.
Disclaimer: All of the above is probably wrong
[ Parent ]

Superstition (none / 0) (#175)
by pnadeau on Mon May 26, 2003 at 09:07:29 AM EST

economic agents act always in a rational fashion. If they did not, then economic models would have no predictive capability at all; and it's not uncommon for economics PhDs to turn down ten or more job offers--not something you associate with a field that doesn't produce results.

I'm jumping in a bit late here but I'm baffled by your pompous windbag approach to this. Do you really believe these blank assertions you are making here?

If economic models have any predictive at all then why are we always getting surprised by recessions and speculative bubbles?

Oh, I guess you mean that everything economic decision is rational when taken on the timeline of the heat death of the universe?

The thing that fascinates me most about market fundamentalism is the psychology behind it.

Since you are a perfectly rational person (or is it just when acting as an economic agent?) then why don't you explain your religious fervour for free markets?

What do you (psychologically) have to gain from all of this? Are you yourself rich, do you forsee becoming a billionaire in your lifetime? My guess is that by you are superstitiously taking on the attitudes and feelings of those who are rich hoping you will become rich magically!


"Can't buy what I want because it's free, can't be what they want because I'm..."  Eddie Vedder


[ Parent ]
Please don't think... (none / 0) (#142)
by melia on Tue May 20, 2003 at 09:09:09 AM EST

...that every economist believes that the all-knowing superhuman, the neo-classical man, is not always the best tool for the job. Some of us accept that a fisherman may not be able to assign probabilities to his decision outcomes, or even know all the choices that are open to him.
Disclaimer: All of the above is probably wrong
[ Parent ]
Not every economist believes this (none / 0) (#144)
by medham on Tue May 20, 2003 at 09:22:06 AM EST

But Objectivist ones do, and I think they're pretty much the only ones that matter.

For more on the concept of "discovered rationality," see my other response.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

You are wrong (none / 0) (#150)
by melia on Tue May 20, 2003 at 10:05:36 AM EST

Here's another reason why. Neo-classical theory links cognitive ability to rationality. So, the less intelligent person becomes less rational, as he is less able to compute his utility. In your other post, you admit this flaw.

millions manage it everyday. Some do it better than others, but most all can do it.

So, if some are better at calculating than others, some are more rational than others. You cannot argue this theory as the truth.

I would like to point out that i'm not saying the theory isn't useful. But to suggest that neo-classical rationality can describe and predict all human behaviour is ridiculous, and I am sure that no economist of any importance would try to argue this. You adhere to it like it's some kind of religion - it's supposed to be science!
Disclaimer: All of the above is probably wrong
[ Parent ]

The Tragedy of the Commons (none / 0) (#160)
by dikaiopolis on Tue May 20, 2003 at 02:46:43 PM EST

Interesting that you should mention that. First of all, allowing everything to be privatized does not solve the TOC, only /forcing/ everything to be privatized, which is clearly impossible. Second, there is another solution to the tragedy of the commons that no one thinks about.

If the problem arises from the fact that positive effects of a behavior in the world are privatized, and negative effects are communalized, then there are two solutions. 1) You can privatize everything, but this doesn't work, because it's impossible to practically do so. 2) You can communalize everything, which has *surprise* worked and allowed indigenous cultures to self-regulate their population and resource usage for tens of millenia.

Hardin delt only with the first solution in the essay, presumably because given the political climate, this would be the most intuitive solution to people. The second solution is actually much more interesting.

Also, any "economist" prescribing that a fisheries scientist go "read a book on economics" should go read a book on the history of fisheries.


gnoske seauton
[ Parent ]

Been there, done that... (5.00 / 1) (#164)
by Francis on Wed May 21, 2003 at 05:29:14 AM EST

Government regulation of fishing is what causes overfishing. The "cure" causes the problem.

The problem with your theory is that it has already failed in practice. You are asserting a causal relationship, but it is inverted. U.S. Fisheries Conservation and Management legislation was created as a result of the over-harvesting of the North Atlantic populations. There were, in fact, some fishermen who were responsible enough to lobby the government to step in and stop the carnage. The introduction to the first subchapter of the U.S. Fishery Conservation and Management legislation states: "Certain stocks of fish have declined to the point where their survival is threatened, and other stocks of fish have been so substantially reduced in number that they could become similarly threatened..." Hence, this legislation states at its outset that it was created as a result of depleting fish resources. So laissez faire in the fishing community has already proven to be a failed endeavor. All the conjecture in the strings below are moot. We have seen this theory, and it has failed.

With only market pressures, the fishing industry would regulate itself perfectly. The constraints on competition are what force fisherman to deplete stocks unnecessarily.

The town where I live is the home of one of the largest fishing fleets on the N. American Pacific coast, and my job compells me to speak with fishermen daily. I happen to know that falling prices and an inundated market, as happens often (and strategically) due to the rise of aquaculture, does not result in less fish being caught; quite the contrary, a falling price generally means that an effort will be made to catch more fish in order to cover the operational overhead of the vessel, which is becoming increasingly difficult to do. The result is circular: catch more fish, price drops, catch more fish, price drops, etc., etc. Your assumption of the rationality of all humans everywhere is the fatal flaw. It has been my experience that those who make there living harvesting resources, whether it be logging or fishing or whatever, often do not act with enough forsight to ensure the viability of their industry.

Another problem here is that you seem to fail to recognize the possibility that the world demand for wild fish may well outweigh the supply. If this were true (I contend that it will be soon if it is not already), then allowing the fisheries economy to take its natural course would result in the destruction of wild fisheries in short order.

If we could extend property rights to cover the oceans, then the so-called "tragedy of the commons" would never be an issue, since any rational person would always act in his self-interest and would not overfish (or pollute, as the case may be).

Again, I have a great deal of experience with fishermen, and it is a mistake to speak of them as if they do not already have an intense sense of ownership for the waters in which they fish. In fact, I have often had to explicitly remind them that when they speak of the ocean and it's fish, it is not quite accurate to think of it as their fish or their ocean. Yet, fishing vessels are perhaps the most regular point-sources of pollution in the country. Go fugure. Your rational model of the human fails here again.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Insults are the first and last arguments of fools. -- Unknown
[ Parent ]

tragedy of the commons (none / 0) (#176)
by mrgomel on Thu Jun 12, 2003 at 10:35:13 AM EST

Government regulation of fishing is what causes overfishing. The "cure" causes the problem.

With only market pressures, the fishing industry would regulate itself perfectly. The constraints on competition are what force fisherman to deplete stocks unnecessarily.


This is such a fucking big mistake that i have taken the extra time to create an kuroshin account just to answer to that. And i say that as an under-graduate in economics.

It's part of the larger issue of environmental regulation. If we could extend property rights to cover the oceans, then the so-called "tragedy of the commons" would never be an issue, since any rational person would always act in his self-interest and would not overfish (or pollute, as the case may be).

this shows clearly that you have no fucking idea what the tradegy of commons is. If you had EVER Games Theory (nash equilibrium, team games and so on) you would have know have know that overfishing IS THE RATIONAL decision from the point of view of one fisherman ( green pastures and cows example). and the solutions is progressive TAXING , which prevents the agents to abuse the common good.

Marcin Gomulka

[ Parent ]
Reform the Law of the Sea? (5.00 / 1) (#86)
by gombeen man on Mon May 19, 2003 at 12:03:03 AM EST

Maybe if countries had sovereignty over the seas surrounding them there might be more efforts to preserve fish stocks. It seems ludicrous that the Japanese can go to the other side of the globe and fish after they have wiped out every living thing in their own nearby waters. One reform might be to continue to allow free passage to all through international waters but give ownership of the fishing rights to just the countries that have shoreline on that piece of sea.

That is more or less how it stands... (none / 0) (#163)
by Francis on Wed May 21, 2003 at 04:32:19 AM EST

Foreign flagged fishing vessels are not allowed to fish in U.S. waters. The U.S. and Canada began restricting their seas within the exclusive economic zone (3 Nautical Miles from shore) to fish-catching vessels of their own flag in 1977, largely as a consequence of the ecological disaster of industrial fishing in the North Atlantic in and around the Grand Banks. (See United States Code Title 16, Chapter 38, Subchapter III, Sec. 1821). As a consequence, it has come to pass that their is often a lot of tension in border areas, such as coastal Nova Scotia and Maine, and the Coastal region around the North of Prince of Whales Island where Southeast Alaska meets British Columbia. U.S. fisherman claim that the Canadians are fishing in their waters, and I'm sure the converse is asserted by the Canadians.

So, your observation is a good one, but it is already a reality, at least in North America. Unless you are saying that the line should be pushed beyond the exclusive economic zone, say to the territorial sea line?

The real problem here is enforcement. In the U.S., there is only the Coast Guard to manage fisheries law enforcement, and needless to say that is not now one of their top priorities. There are other federal agencies, such as the National Marine Fisheries Service, but they are more research and regulatory oriented rather than enforcement. The Coast Guard is the only federal maritime law enforcement agency, and it is difficult enough for them to ensure that U.S. fishermen are fishing legally, let alone take care of the international turf quarrels (or "surf" quarrels, perhaps).

Fisheries management is rather peculiar in that only certain species of fish are regulated federally, typically the larger fish such as Halibut, Tuna, Cod, Swordfish, etc., while the other fisheries are regulated by the state. Russian and Japanese fish-catching vessels ask permission from the State of Alaska annually to fish in their waters. This year Alaska said no.

There are other problems in these territorial sea "border areas." For instance, Canada attempted the brilliant endeavor of farming Atlantic salmon in fish farms along their Pacific coast, with disasterous consequences. The Atlantic salmon, a much inferior fish for consumpsion, has been found to be a much heartier species than the native Pacific salmon, and is threatening to inundate the Pacific stock. They have already been found on the southern coast of upper Alaska, and I think I have even heard of them out in the Aleutians. The Canadians have taken a lot of heat over the fiasco, but to my knowledge have yet to accept culpability for their errors, or even acknowledge that they have goofed.

So, I guess what I'm getting at is that it is not as easy as it sounds to control the water. The seas are fluid (I know, silly observation) and uninhabited (by humans). On the surface your solution sounds intuitive, but I'm afraid it is simply not quite as easy as that.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Insults are the first and last arguments of fools. -- Unknown
[ Parent ]

MSC (5.00 / 1) (#94)
by njmc on Mon May 19, 2003 at 04:49:39 AM EST

Whenever you buy fish, make sure it's certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. Then, when you inevitably fail to find MSC-certified fish in the shops, ask 'Why not?' of the floor assistant, check-out operator or store manager - whoever you can find. If enough customers in enough outlets ask, perhaps the word will filter through and maybe corporate buyers will start to take note. For the sake of sushi and fishfingers I hope so.

How does one verify this? (none / 0) (#109)
by sacrelicious on Mon May 19, 2003 at 02:35:15 PM EST

On the can? Through a website?
Interested folks want to know...

-S

[ Parent ]

The label (3.00 / 1) (#128)
by The Devil on Mon May 19, 2003 at 11:10:51 PM EST

Read the label. Corporations would never lie about something like this.

[ Parent ]
I would just like to say (4.00 / 2) (#169)
by The Devils Advocate on Thu May 22, 2003 at 07:46:36 PM EST

that this is a very valid point.

Thank you.

[ Parent ]

Look for the trademark on packaging (4.00 / 1) (#137)
by njmc on Tue May 20, 2003 at 07:46:38 AM EST

Look for the MSC tradeamark on the food packaging, the MSC is an international, non-profit organisation. The certification process is independent, i.e. not self-certification by the fishing industry. That is not to say the system is perfect - nor that it has no detractors (such as some environmental NGO's), but there are no realistic alternatives at present.

[ Parent ]
Fish Farming (none / 0) (#101)
by nebbish on Mon May 19, 2003 at 06:53:54 AM EST

The is an interesting article in the UK Guardian about cod farming, which shows that offshore salt water fish farming is now a reality.

Fish farming has unfortunate environmental side effects (as discussed in the article), but I don't believe that these are an intrinsic part of the process, rather the result of short term profit chasing and - importantly - an inevitable part of the learning process in a still-young industry.

Fish farming probably provides the only hope in the short term of returning sea stocks to sustainable levels. Some areas have been overfished so much - the Grand Banks in the north-west Atlantic for example - that cod stocks have suffered irrversible damage, whether people fish them or not.

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee

Open ocean aquaculure -- not "off shore" (none / 0) (#110)
by Baldrson on Mon May 19, 2003 at 02:52:48 PM EST

'In the years after the Second World War there were 300 salmon per season caught on the Add; now we are down to about 30,' he told The Observer. The clan chief has little doubt that a new farm close to the estuary of the Add will 'kill the river'.

He's right.

That's why I linked to open ocean aquaculture technology rather than simply "off shore" technology.

A development beyond "open ocean" aquaculture is ocean desert aquaculture where natural ecosystems are minimally involved.

-------- Empty the Cities --------


[ Parent ]

Not Off Shore (none / 0) (#147)
by nebbish on Tue May 20, 2003 at 09:39:57 AM EST

I stand corrected!

An interesting link (ocean desert aquaculture) - it reminded me a little of those old "World of the Future" books and their insistance that future generations would be feasting on cheaply grown seaweed. Never quite seemed to catch on.

A couple of points - ocean deserts DO support a diversity of life not found elsewhere, just in smaller numbers (and therefore species more prone to extinction). How would these species be protected? It strikes me that one of the problems of adding chemicles to an area of an ocean is that there would be no way to control where those chemicles end up.

---------
Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

Diversity and Control (none / 0) (#155)
by Baldrson on Tue May 20, 2003 at 11:12:15 AM EST

You're right that control of effluents of aquaculture is a problem and that is a problem no matter whether your agriculture is land or ocean based. Rain water flushes everything into the ocean anyway.

You're also right that there are small amounts of biodiversity supported by the ocean deserts, just as such is supported on land desert. Ultimately the solution is to disperse life itself but the immediate destruction of land ecosystems such as rainforests demands some appropriate sacrifices be made.

As far as I'm concerned the sacrifices to be made should be made by humans on behalf of dispersing life itself by any means necessary. I'm happy to support environmentalists in their efforts to restrict destruction of life on the planet and even do so at the expense of human life -- but not if its going to serve control freaks. Humanity isn't evil -- merely misled.

-------- Empty the Cities --------


[ Parent ]

What they need... (none / 0) (#127)
by The Devil on Mon May 19, 2003 at 11:09:19 PM EST

... is a magic pill that you drop in the ocean that will make all sorts of fish come alive. Then we could keep fishing like this without the risk! :)

Exactly! (none / 0) (#170)
by The Devils Advocate on Thu May 22, 2003 at 07:46:48 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Animal meat is obsolete (3.40 / 5) (#129)
by mcrbids on Tue May 20, 2003 at 02:22:58 AM EST

Yes, obsolete. The problem with animals is that they are very inefficient meat producers. First, you have to grow the plants. Then, the animal has to eat the plants, then you get meat. Producivity (calories) is around 5% (or less). Better to have plants that grow meat directly. http://entertainment.tv.yahoo.com/entnews/wwn/20030516/105309720008.html Here, we have a "beef grapefruit". How long until we have fish, crab, etc? This is the future!
I kept looking around for somebody to solve the problem. Then I realized... I am somebody! -Anonymouse
Weekly World News, eh? (3.00 / 2) (#159)
by Echo5ive on Tue May 20, 2003 at 01:49:19 PM EST

Please note the "Entertainment News & Gossip" on the top of the page. Weekly World News are the same guys who bring you "Saddam Starred in Gay Porn Films!" stories. Never trust news items where the headline ends with an exclamation mark.

--
Frozen Skies: mental masturbation.

[ Parent ]
But it could be true! (none / 0) (#171)
by ajduk on Fri May 23, 2003 at 03:49:43 AM EST

Well, in a decade or so. If you can genetically engineer cow cells to multiply and produce muscle tissue in a vat, for instance, you could grow meat much more efficiently than today, and since it would be in a sterial environment, food poisioning would be a lot less likely. I wonder how vegetarians would treat it..

[ Parent ]

Industrial fishing proven very efficient | 176 comments (158 topical, 18 editorial, 0 hidden)
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