The Economics Of Overexploitation

19 Apr

Back in 2007, I explained what I call “The Montgomery Burns” perspective on ocean decline:

“Keeping economics in mind, there’s arguably reason to question whether we should fret over the oceans’ dwindling and altered stocks. Human tastes are malleable, so we adapt to what industry supplies. For example, lobster and skate – traditionally the ‘poor fisherman’s dinner’ – are now featured at NYC’s finest restaurants. Thus, a boom in lower trophic level species creates newly emerging markets! When traditionally harvested species decline, there is tremendous opportunity to cash in by exploiting the next readily available critter. From Orange Roughy to algae…Why not allow every commercially viable animal possible its 15 minutes of fame? Hey, when life deals you jellyfish, make a salad! Garnish it with a fancy name, add a hefty price tag… Excellent!”

And now folks, as expected, life is dealing us jellyfish.

An article in the latest issue of the journal Hydrobiologia reports jellyfish are increasing in the majority of the world’s coastal ecosystems.

Jellyfish directly interfere with many human activities — by stinging swimmers, clogging intakes of power plants, and interfering with fishing. Some species of jellyfish are now a food source in some parts of the world.

No, it’s not news-worthy, but fisheries are going to hell in a handbasket.

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