"Overfished" and "Overfishing" are related terms used by population dynamics modelers such as those who provide stock assessments for ICCAT's decision-making on Atlantic tunas, swordfish, marlins etc. These same terms apply to all stock assessments of all fisheries at least all of which I am aware.
Using swordfish as an example, the scientific advisory committee produced the top figure below to chart the trend in abundance or biomass of the North Atlantic swordfish population for ICCAT beginning in 1955 (when longlines were first introduced by the Japanese and subsequently copied by other countries' fishermen). The bottom figure shows the cause of the decline in abundance which is the fishing pressure being exerted increasingly by the combined fleets from many countries. These estimates are based on data supplied by each ICCAT member country (48 currently) including what they caught (species, sizes, weights, number) where they caught it and how hard they fished (including numbers and types of gear such as longlines, purse seines, gill nets, number of hooks, number of sets made, etc. Putting this mass of dissimilar data into a coherent model is quite a feat that no one should belittle.
This stock assessment model shows the population declining beginning about 1980 from a very healthy level (a "virgin" stock is generally considered to be at twice the MSY level or at 2.0 on the swordfish abundance graphic below) into a prolonged, steady decline through 1999, the last year for which they (then) had data when the assessment was done in 2000. The estimated decline is indicated as a series of dots and the 80% confidence limits indicated by the red lines on either side of it. Note that the earliest estimates have much narrower confidence limits meaning with each added year of data we are increasingly certain the estimate is accurate.
The horizontal black line at 1.0 is called the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) level. Fishery managers consider this the "management objective" or level at which they want to maintain the population. If abundance is above this line more total tonnage can be harvested without adversely affecting the population. Any biomass below this level and the population is considered to be "overfished." However, this only becomes serious when the population's biomass declines below 50% of the MSY level. Above this threshold is called "growth overfished" and means more tonnage could be harvested if the individual fish were allowed to grow larger before they were harvested. Any abundance level below this threshold is called "recruitment overfished" and it means there are becoming too few spawning adults to maintain the population. As it declines, eventually there will be too few adults to find each other at spawning time and the population will spiral toward extinction even if all fishing were to cease. Where this point lies is unknown. Atlantic blue marlin are down to 20% of their MSY level, Atlantic white marlin are down to 4% and western North Atlantic bluefin ("our" bluefin) are down to 12% of their MSY. Compared to their virgin stock size, blue marlin have declined by 90%, white marlin by 98% and bluefin by 97%. All three are thus in deep trouble.
The cause of the decline is increasing fishing pressure. Responsible fishery managers would never allow the fishing pressure as represented in the bottom graphic below to rise above the MSY level (also indicated by a horizontal black line at 1.0). Any fishing pressure above the MSY level is considered to be "overfishing."
Thus, we should try to rebuild "overfished" stocks by reducing fishing pressure so as to decrease the amount of "overfishing" it is experiencing.
Last edited by BigMarineFish.com; 03-04-12 at 05:21 PM.
Reason: spelling correction
Seriously? Does everyone who acknowledges the existence of overfishing have to be a crony of EDF?
It was simply a question, but I understand asking the "wrong questions" is politically incorrect these days. Additionally, "overfishing" has ended in the U. S. according to Professor Steve Murawski, former chief fishery scientist for NOAA. That's not stopping the extreme anti-fishing interests however from continuing to use the term "overfishing" to paint a crisis where none exists in order to justify Catch Share implementation in our recreational fisheries.
The one MAJOR issue that is plagueing the American fishing scene, and unreported in publications such as yours, is the hijacking of our federal fisheries management process by the Environmental Defense Fund when, according to their website (before it was stricken), "EDF's Oceans Team was instrumental in CRAFTING AND PASSING the changes to the Magnuson in 2006 which introduced Catch Shares..."
This verbage has since been erased from all of EDF's websites since I pointed it out, as it acknowledges their possibly-illegal undue influence on our fisheries management process - I do have a screenshot of it however (enclosed). EDF was successful in getting their Catch Share agenda written into the fisheries laws - something that needs a serious looksey now that the IG is looking into this very issue - NGO's exerting too much influence on our fisheries management process. It's no coincidence that EDF's Jane Lubchenco is now heading NOAA, which controls our fisheries.
Also enclosed is the bio of BigMarineFish, http://www.primeseafood.com/ who just happens to be a former federal fisheries management employee espousing the propaganda of what the Enviromental Defense Fund is spewing by his pointing of people to the EDF site and "endorsing" what they are saying. Much of what EDF is pushing is the commodification of our Public Trust Resource through Catch Shares, and which bigmarinefish is very much involved in it seems (profiting/selling from the sale of our fish), and he seems to be very much in alignment with EDF's agenda, so yes, I would consider him a "crony", or perhaps "shill" of EDF. His statement; " Thus, we should try to rebuild "overfished" stocks by reducing fishing pressure so as to decrease the amount of "overfishing" it is experiencing." is very much in line with EDF's goal of removing access to the resource by us recreational fishermen, who I believe comprise the vast majority of your readership.
By the way, EDF's Catch Shares scheme has little to do with "overfishing" and LOTS to do with potential profits to be generated from converting our currently "free" Public Trust Resource (recreational fishery) into shares that can be traded, leased, or sold for personal profit. I believe that to be in direct violation of our Public Trust Doctrine.
Did I also mention that Catch Shares are designed to EXCLUDE recreational anglers (your readership) from going fishing? Here is a study funded by the NMFS to do just that - through the use of a Recreational Catch Share Pool; http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ocs/mafac/m...omstock_cs.ppt
Note the terms "ANGLER LIMITS" and "THE ABILITY TO EXCLUDE ANGLERS WITHOUT STAMPS"...
Perhaps you should do some research of your own on an individual who so dominates the conservation forum of your own website Mr. Brownlee before attacking simple questions fielded by your readership, on issues clearly attacking the ability for your readership to go fishing in the future. What will your magazine be about then? Certainly not saltwater fishing.
Relax, no one is "attacking" your question. I know Jim Chambers and disagree with a great many of his positions, but no one believes 100 percent in Murawski's statement proclaiming all overfishing to be over, just like almost no one believes overfishing to be as rampant as many ENGOs would have us believe. As usual, the truth is likely in the middle somewhere.
In referencing "overfishing" here, Mr. Chambers is echoing the EDF party line with misrepresentation of a "crisis" where it apparently is simply agenda-driven propaganda designed to scare people into doing what EDF wants.
Similarly, as shown by Mr. Gaines' piece today, EDF's Jane Lubchenco has been debunked for her role in co-authoring the alarmist, fear-mongering paper "Oceans of Abundance", where Lubchenco claimed that the evidence was overwhelming that our fish would soon be gone and replaced by jellyfish. Her co-author, Worm, has since admitted that the paper had no basis in reality and was timed for maximum media effect to exploit fears about the fishery at a time when decisions were being made at the legislative level.
Capt. Thomas J. Hilton
Gloucester Times - March 5, 2012 Who's afraid of jellyfish?
By Richard Gaines
The jellyfish are not taking over the oceans after all, according to a new peer-reviewed scientific study.
The work of 18 scientists in the February issue of BioScience magazine undercuts the claim most closely associated with a political manifesto by NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, herself a distinguished scientist, made in her previous position as an officer of Environmental Defense Fund.
That thesis, "Oceans of Abundance," was that uncontrolled fishing will leave nothing in the seas except jellyfish, unless the wild resources were immediately privatized and commodified, fitted into the global investment market via catch shares' trading.
The thesis has been transformed into U.S. policy by the Obama presidency, with Lubchenco appointed to head oceans and fisheries in 2009 and working since then to complete the re-engineering of one of the nation's oldest industries.
In the New England groundfishery, catch share trading has accelerated consolidation, adding to unemployment and to the holdings of the best capitalized fishing businesses. NOAA figures show that the Gloucester groundfishing fleet alone saw some two dozen of the harbor's then-95 boats driven to the sidelines in the 2010 fishing year, the first under the catch-share system.
In the new report, the scientists found no signs that human and natural factors were clearing the way for jellyfish mastery of the seas.
"Coupled with media-driven perception," wrote the team headed by Robert H. Condon, of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama, "a paradigm has evolved in which the global ocean ecosystems are thought to be heading toward being dominated by 'nuisance' jellyfish."
Although the authors found no justification for that conclusion, they pointed to the public fascination with and repulsion from the "gelatinous zooplankton" — which sting and can even kill in spite of their icky, seemingly inoffensive appearance — to explain the phenomenon of fear surrounding a future jellyfish dominance of the world's oceans.
With more scientific studies, news coverage has multiplied rapidly under headlines that are "often alarmist," the scientists wrote.
The effort to exploit this fear of an ocean dystopia, purportedly caused by industry greed and government mismanagement, was at the core of "Oceans of Abundance," which Lubchenco co-wrote in 2008.
Funded in part by the Walton Family Foundation, "Oceans of Abundance's" fervent call for immediate privatization also got support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The Moores were among the founders of Intel Corp.
Another piece of evidence of the need for privatization linked to the jellyfish theory in "Oceans of Abundance" — that alpha predators were being harvested into extinction a la 19th century whaling — had already been debunked by authoritative science long before Lubchenco and her partners inserted the claim into the heavily footnoted political pamphlet.
At what was called a "World Ocean Summit" last month featuring Lubchenco, the same distortions were in evidence during three days of discussions in Singapore among environmentalists, investors, shippers, government leaders and journalists, according to Internet transcripts of prepared statements.
The Economist, whose editor-in-chief chaired the event, has endorsed the catch shares' solution.
Lubchenco's spokesman Justin Kenney declined comment on the BioScience report, as did the Environmental Defense Fund.
"Online reports of jellyfish blooms, even from personal blogs with limited credibility, get an immediate global audience equivalent to that of a reputable news or science report," ecologist Robert Condon and his colleagues wrote in BioScience.
"Oceans of Abundance" was crafted by Lubchenco, and among others, her brother-in-law Stephen Gaines, as well as N.J. Nicholas, the investor and former president of Time, Inc., who at the time, after the 2008 election, was chairman of EDF's board.
Not a peer-reviewed scientific paper despite fulsome footnotes, "Oceans of Abundance" mixed and merged images from science and science fiction to create the impression that fishing was emptying the oceans of its higher organisms, an impending dystopia that cried out for radical medicine — and that medicine was transforming the ocean's seafood resources into tradable commodities.
President-elect Obama not only adopted the program, but gave Lubchenco the position, heading NOAA, that enabled her to implement the investor-driven resource management approach that has become EDF's gospel.
Just last week, New York Times columnist Joe Nocera lauded EDF for its pragmatism in supporting "hydraulic fracting" of shale gas and recommending that regulation of the removal process of the gas from horizontal rock formations near the earth's surface be relegated to the states due to "dysfunction" of the federal government.
Earlier in the week, The New York Times reported on a $45 billion leveraged buyout of a Texas energy system by an EDF partner, KKR, which helped launch the era of leverage — businesses acquired with borrowed funds for flipping and hedging, as well as building.
The collapse of natural gas prices, ironically due in part to the advance of the EDF-backed fracting movement, has scarred the TXU energy gambit, at the time the largest leveraged acquisition on record, made with other investors including Goldman Sachs and Wall Street.
EDF was a principal in the complex structure of the buyers, and from the Texas deal has grown a permanent alliance with Kohlberg, Kravis & Roberts providing advice on how and where to make the world greener.
The case for commodifying — saving — the nation's fisheries in "Oceans of Abundance" was made with blunt force directly to President-elect Obama.
"Evidence is overwhelming," wrote Lubchenco and her co-authors, a mix of scientists, business executives and former politicians. "The global oceans are being emptied of seafood. Scientists report that 90 percent of large fish — highly sought-after species like tuna and swordfish — have been removed from the oceans.
"There is scientific consensus that fishing is fundamentally altering ocean ecosystems which are increasingly likely to yield massive swarms of jellyfish rather than food fish."
That idea, however, was swept aside in an angry warning against agenda-driven fisheries science.
The short but influential paper by Ray Hilborn, "Faith-based Fisheries," written in 2006, called out the leading scientific journals and the nation's leading newspapers, The New York Times and Washington Post, by name for lack of discrimination and a willingness to participate in frightening the public to advance an anti-fishing agenda and build circulation.
Last week, speaking to an audience in Sydney, Australia, Hilborn reprised his warning against agenda-driven science, adding that "NGOs" or non-government organizations were continuing their anti-fishing campaign.
"Australia is subject to a relentless anti-fishing campaign that is causing doom and gloom myths from misrepresentations of overseas examples of inadequate fisheries management," wrote the professor of aquatic and fisheries sciences at University of Washington in Seattle.
Richard Gaines can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3464, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have only 4 "positions" that I've brought up on this Conservation forum:
(1 and 2) Atlantic white marlin and Atlantic blue marlin are on a trajectory that unless changed will result in their extinction by about 2017;
(3) North Atlantic swordfish are not "fully rebuilt" (in fact are likely far from it) because the Japanese have been knowingly submitting misleading catch data that has skewed the stock assessment model's results; and
(4) western North Atlantic bluefin tuna are perched on the edge of extinction.
All four "positions" are based entirely on ICCAT's data as presented in its stock assessment reports (see www.iccat.es) and highlighted in my posts. They are not based on my data or my opinion.
If you disagree with any of these "positions," show us your data.
Well, then I'd question the integrity and objectivity of those who see what ICCAT is reporting and view it as unimportant.
These fish, as reported in ICCAT's own stock assessments, are rapidly approaching extinction. When Atlantic-wide blue and white marlin populations (including those of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea) decline to zero in the total catch by 48 member countries (by about 2017), what else does it mean?
If you have any different information to support a view of "not to worry," trot it out.
Last edited by BigMarineFish.com; 03-08-12 at 10:16 AM.