Introductory assignment

How healthy are global fish stocks? Ranked 1 to 10 (1 healthy, 10 is in peril)

-consider ‘health’ to be a measure of abundance available for harvest and role in ecosystems


How do you know? 

-consider what motivated your answer

DUE by 11:59 pm Wednesday (tomorrow) August 26th

44 thoughts on “Introductory assignment”

  1. I believe that the global fish stock is 5/6 from what I have read. I came up with this figure after reading the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020 from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and an article from the Duke Nicholas Institute. As world population continues to grow, the production, utilization and trade will rise as well. Management and governance of small fisheries are imperative to global food supply. Since Covid 19 lockdowns dating back in March 2020, there has been significant impacts on the production and distribution from dominant fishing communities. External threats as invasive species, infrastructure development, and overfishing continue to challenge scientist and policymakers to sustain food security.

    1. So overall the fishing companies are down, but fish populations and overall fish health are doing alright? If I’m wrong please explain what it is you are saying so I can have a better understanding of these figures.

    2. I had the same answer as you, solid 5. I didn’t think about invasive species right off the bat! Thank you for bringing that up. I wonder if there was a stronger abundance of invasive species this year because not as many people went out to harvest fish.

  2. I personally don’t know much about fisheries and how the pandemic has affected it. But i do know how it was before the pandemic and based on this previous knowledge I can guess that fisheries are doing well.

  3. I am unsure how the fish are doing myself. Assuming that covid-19 made a huge impact on the world around us, I think it’s safe to say that fish numbers are pretty low from what they are suppose to be.

  4. I don’t know anything at all but i would assume it is on a slight decline because of covid. But at the same time it could be on the incline because of covid putting fisherman out of jobs.

    1. I think whatever effect it might has less to do with COVID putting fishermen out of jobs and more with Bristol bay and Alaska fishing hubs, such as Naknek and Dillingham, not wanting commercial fishermen to come from out of the area. Canneries being closed due to COVID outbreaks are probably affecting fish stocks as well.

  5. I believe that globally fish stocks are on a slow decline and could be rated as about 6/10, however, the level of decline varies based on the area and species of fish. I base this off of my knowledge of the unstable salmon returns from the previous years and the decline of the pacific cod stocks off the coast of Alaska. I also know that some species that were previously considered unpalatable and not fit for eating are starting to be fished for due to the decline of more traditional fish species, take Chilean Sea Bass for example. “Chilean Sea Bass” is the commercial name for the Patagonian Toothfish. This fish was not eaten at all until the 1990s when it became an ingredient in frozen fish sticks, and has now recently become a delicacy eaten at high class restaurants. Trends like this show that the fishing industry has begun to search for new fish due to the decline of more traditional species such as Cod and Halibut.

    1. That is a very interesting case. A very general trend in the past has been serial overfishing of entire ecosystems. I really hope that Cod and Halibut stocks are not depleted right under our noses and we have to eat something less delicious.

    2. Hello Eli.
      Your understanding of the current fish stock is similar to mine. I’ve learned that fisheries of higher quality fish will be fished until they are no longer able. Then the fishing companies will move to a less desired fish as they are able to catch their limits. I believe this is happening more in some water than others. I believe in another class they referred to this as fishing down the food web.

  6. I really don’t know anything about fisheries productivity, either before or during COVID. My guess, based on what my dad has told me, is that it has been declining through the years due to overfishing and inadequate resource management. I’m sure that the economic decline due to COVID, especially with fisheries in Alaska having COVID outbreaks, hasn’t improved the global fisheries situation. But I really don’t know anything on this topic besides speculation and hearsay, and I hope to learn more in our discussion on Thursday!

    1. We definitely have been overfishing and I am also unsure of how COVID-19 effected the fishing industry besides not being able to bring in the fishermen and canary workers to perform this summer. I would like to say COVID had a positive attribution in regards to the numbers of species in the water (not as many people out fishing shoulder to shoulder like last year) but I am unsure as well. That was just an observation. Good post!

  7. As far as Global fish stocks go, I am unsure whether or not we are talking about ” Man-Made ” stocks, or ” Wild Stocks ” globally. They each impact one another as far as ocean side goes. Fish farms that are along side the ocean, pose an impact to the wild stock fish. They can each transmit diseases to one another, and have great impacts on fish such as the returning salmon. I know this from working at remote fisheries. Thus far, I think having more information would be greatly appreciated.

  8. I don’t know much about fisheries and fish stocks, so I can’t give any sort of opinion on my own. Though from other peoples’ comments here and what was said during FISH 102 and ECON 235, it seems that some fish populations are struggling.

  9. Global fish stocks are at a solid 5 in my opinion if we look at abundance and role in the ecosystem. I believe that abundance of fish are different depending on where you’re at and what species of fish and most importantly: how we harvest the fish. Alaska’s fishing regulations might be a lot different to someone who is fishing on the other side of the world. Just from reading different studies/articles and books, it seems that we started over-harvesting a long time ago and have not been able to completely correct it since. In other words, global fish stocks are not healthy, but they are not unhealthy either.

  10. Due to climate change, over harvesting, land development, and pollution, the fish stocks have dropped. I’d probably rank the health of global fish stocks at 4 or 5. I’ve lived in Southeast Alaska all my life. The community I’m from is known for its commercial, subsistence, charter, and sport fishing. The temperatures of global waters are increasing which means streams and rivers are drying up. In turn, the fish have less spawning grounds. Pollution is also a concern, but more so is land development. Developing along the coast has continued to decrease natural spawning grounds for many species of fish. Over harvesting has always been a concern. There are a number of species that are highly sought after, bluefin tuna for example, and cannot recover/reproduce as quickly as they are removed from the ocean. All of these concerns combined have led to smaller fish stocks around the globe.

    1. Zosha, I was heading in the same exact direction as you with the climate change aspect. I think the decline we are seeing currently will only get worse without some serious intervention. In Alaska, we have seen a bit of damage to the populations (take the Chinook salmon our parents caught, compared to the size of Chinooks we catch today). The smaller the fish, likely the less offspring from small producing females. I think Alaska is doing pretty well in the grand scheme of things (we have good management) but I think as a whole- fisheries are struggling. In a lot of countries, there is no “fisheries management”, due to no fault of their own. It’s an expensive thing to fund. With increasing water temperatures, not much will continue to thrive as they once did. I think that is tragic to the world’s fish stock. I believe we don’t hear about the crisis as much because we are so focused on the US fisheries and Alaska’s in particular.

    2. I think those are all really good observations, and I’m surprised that considering all of them you still ranked stocks at a 4 or 5. It seems high to me, but to be fair I don’t really know how they started off. I think it’s interesting that your main concern seems to be habitat loss and pollution rather than over fishing, which I think is perfectly reasonable and an angle that a lot of people don’t think about at first when discussing fishing for food. But you’re totally right in everything you said. Not only does climate change impact the amount of bodies of water to provide habitats, but it also has a huge impact on the quality of the habitats that remain. Ocean warming and acidification both can decrease fish populations and even push fish out of the environment completely if it gets too extreme and the fish are no longer capable of surviving in the warmer and more acidic water.

  11. I don’t know much about global fish stocks so I guess I’d say a 5 to stay neutral. I do know that when I worked for fish and game over the summer the fish counts were very low compared to other even years. While I haven’t been working there for very long I can’t speak from personal experience but I was able to see the past years’ numbers. From my understanding fish counts often change with the even and odd years and recently I think it switched from bad odd years to good odd years. As for COVID having an impact, I think it affected the fishing industry more than the fish populations itself. It seemed like most of the cases that would come up in the villages or towns were from the fish plants.

  12. I believe the fish stocks *globally* have gotten to about an 8, based on the scale provided (10 being in peril). In Alaska i’d say we are at a 4-5. We are lucky enough here to maintain many healthy, highly fished commercial fish stocks.
    Throughout the world, we are facing a mass extinction globally, but especially in our aquatic systems. The world is seeing a lot of effects due to a rapidly changing climate, an increasing global population with poor global management of our fisheries, and also some genetic dilution by hatcheries making fish species more at risk for disease/mass death.
    I have spent a lot of free time reading controversial pages online and also some readings with credible sources. It is hard to say exactly where my opinion comes from. I think our fish populations are safe to experience a rise and loss from year to year, due to it being normal in populations of most species, but we are seeing far more detrimental effects this time around with the climate change.

    1. I appreciate how you attributed the concerns to multiple factors, which really is true, nothing is being ruined by just one thing. I do think it’s interesting that Alaska seems so much better than the world at large; why do you think that is? I don’t know much about fish stocks in Alaska as I am not from here, so I’m curious to know if it’s something in the industry in Alaska that keeps it from getting too bad? Could it be something that the rest of the world could learn from and adopt? Or is it just innate in where Alaska is and how society works as it is pretty different when compared to the rest of the world.

  13. To be honest, I don’t really know how healthy fisheries are in the age of COVID or prior. I have my preconceived notions that aren’t back by any research and just my feelings, which creates bias. I am going to say 5/10 and eagerly look forward to Thursday’s discussion.

  14. I’m not 100% sure, but if I had to guess I would say 6/10. I know that a lot of fishing “Isn’t how it was when I was your age.”, and that worldwide a lot of things get messed up by deep sea trawling and other human interferences.

    1. I agree with your statement about human interference and deep-sea trawling. The trawling destroys coral reefs and diminishes big parts of the ocean’s ecosystems and the less healthy coral reefs the ocean has, the less fish there will be.

  15. I would say would say global fish stocks are not very healthy, 5/10 because of the things I’ve heard communicating with commercial fisherman and seen spending my summer in Prince William Sound. This spring when Covid 19 started to amp up and stimulus checks were being handed out the brown crab industry was starting to prepare themselves for a bad price. China purchases the majority of crab in this fishery. A bad price was not only seen in crab, but Bristol bay this summer for salmon. As summer draws to a end and fisherman prepare to go black codding they too are preparing for a low price. That is from a fisherman stand point, but if we were going to look at a seafood purchaser/distributor position. Less of the population is able to afford the price due to job insecurity and many restaurants, their top buyer have shut down or have less volume of people dining. When talking about fish stocks available for harvest and role in ecosystems I have less of an idea. However I know from tendering this summer gill neters in Prince William Sound did not catch anywhere near what they would in a normal season, the fish never showed up. It was concerning to hear old timers that have fished those water 30 plus years say they have never seen a season so bad. What is responsible? I don’t think I could begin to scrape the surface on the complexity of the factors but global warming leading to hot summer drying up streams salmon rely on to spawn, hatcheries and warm water temperatures.

    1. Madelyn, I think you hit a lot of good points in this post. I didn’t even begin to think of the health of fish stocks globally by comparing to the fish sales/catch rates around the world. When I think of “fish stocks” i just think of sub-populations of different species of fish around the world. A lot species of fish around the world are palatable so i’m sure stocks can be partially based off of how well they are selling/being caught for each particular year. We do hear a lot of old-timer fishermen in Alaska say the fisheries are nothing like they once used to be. We know about the “Blob” in the Pacific Ocean destroying fisheries here, but is this happening around the world? Is this what is actually causing us to see the demise of some species? Are we over fishing? You absolutely hit all of the right points and I am curious as well to learn what the cause of this is!

    2. This was very interesting as I didn’t think about how prices would affect the stock health! Covid-19 job insecurity would definitely have an affect on fish prices in restaurants and with so many restaurants going out of business or being closed temporarily. I would think, just my opinion, that with restaurants closing it would increase fish stock health and abundance, though. I also didn’t take global warming into account as I focused more on overfishing in my answer.

    3. I really appreciate the question you have in your post “What is responsible?”. It would be very interesting and helpful to see some sampling studies done in the area from this summer.

  16. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know much about global fish stocks. However, I would probably guess that they’re at about a 6, possibly a 7. I say this because I know there is a problem with over fishing in general, and I think most of that is to supply food. I know that fish populations of various species and in various areas has been greatly decreased due to over fishing, and I know that companies don’t often think about the consequences of their actions. In addition, I know that fish populations in Asia struggle due to black market selling, and some legal ways as well, of fish and marine creatures that are sought after for dishes or medicinal purposes. There are also major problems with fish farms and aquaculture for both the businesses and the areas that they work in. The fish that they breed often escape the pools and get into local bodies of water, hurting the native populations of that body of water. They are also genetically inferior due to a lack of natural selection within the farms, so they decrease the genetic diversity and strength of native populations when they escape and breed. They also provide environments where sickness and parasites can run rampant, which can also hurt the native population of marine species. Overall I just know that the world is not in the best state right now, so I don’t particularly expect fish stocks to be any better.

  17. As influenced by the NOAA Fisheries data, I believe the health, at least the US, of fish stocks to be 4/5. Their overfishing/overfished stock data out of 175 stocks across the US from April 1 to June 30, 2020 shows that roughly 21% of those stocks are either subject to overfishing or are overfished. With just my opinion I feel like overfishing may be more specific to certain species of fish, that are most popular in the restaurant industry, individually rather than whole stocks because a stock may contain more than one species of fish. Another source from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), an article titled “Effective fisheries management instrumental in improving fish stock status” published in January 2020, gathers that countries across the world such as Canada, much of Atlantic Europe, New Zealand and Chile that have tightened fisheries management over the last twenty years saw stocks were and are “increasing where they are assessed” and where fisheries management is weaker, the stock health trends are worse. It is to be noted that some countries, namely in the “South and Southeast Asian” regions have to be excluded from fisheries information that could assess stock health because they provide “unreliable scientific assessments”. And so, based on these sources I think stock health varies in different places but the trend exists that with maintained management stock health can be improved and has been improved over the last twenty years.

    1. I put the health at about a 5 as well! I think the fact that countries differ in how they manage their fisheries is something that makes this kind of question hard to answer, and you made a great point with saying that certain species are more vulnerable to over fishing than others. It’s absolutely true! I also think that if we manage it right stock health can be improved, but I worry that we aren’t doing enough right now for the stock health to be sustainable in the future. Especially when you consider how pollution effects the ecosystems the fish stock live in.

  18. I believe global fisheries are not in very good shape at around a 6 or a 7. Commercial fishing has been on the rise for some time now, and the Alaskan salmon population and cod populations are two big species that are narrowing because of commercial fishing.

    1. I absolutely agree that the salmon and cod populations are narrowing. When I worked for fish and game at the Copper River a few years ago I heard from a lot of fisherman that the reds and king salmon were steadily getting smaller and smaller compared to 20 years before when they first started fishing in that area.

  19. Honestly I don’t know anything about fisheries. Though I would assume it is on a slight decline due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More people seem to be out fishing though I feel like big fishing boats may have been put behind schedule because of restrictions related to the pandemic

  20. I believe that the current fish stocks are not doing their best, they could be better though. There needs to be changes made, but I am unsure on how to make the necessary changes. We cant just stop fishing , but we do need to be smarter about how we fish and where.

  21. From what little I know about fish abundance and the ecosystems of the sea I would say that the fish stocks are at a level of 5. Some of my knowledge from what I remember was talked about in my Fish 103 class I took in spring of 2019. We spoke about fisheries and various ways that fish stocks have been over fished in the past. We spoke of Chesapeake Bay and how that ecosystem was steadily destroyed by over fishing the oysters there. Over fishing still a problem in my opinion because I believe that between pollution and the general lack of awareness that the population as a whole (including myself) our harvesting of the fish isn’t sustainable. While there are steps taken to try and preserve fish stocks I still ultimately believe that it’s only going to continue to get worse in the future even if it’s not too bad right now.

  22. Honestly I don’t really know much past Alaska for fisheries . From my estimates I think that global fisheries aren’t really doing that well, I would rate it a 3 out of 10. For now it is doing well enough, but what does the future hold for many things that are over fished and drained of life, everything is connected and I have yet to find that humans in general understand this concept fully, thus far. The world is populating quickly, at what point are there just too many of us and not enough fish to go around?

  23. I would say that the health of the fish stocks are at about 5/10.i honestly haven’t heard much about the current state of fish ecosystems, but from what i’ve seen fishing personally and heard from other fishermen is that there has been a decline of healthy looking fish and that we are catching less and less as the days go by.

  24. I would rate current fish stocks at a 4/10. Compared to the past, stocks are drastically lower or in many cases depleted. This being said, we have quickly picked up strategies to sustainably harvest and use marine and freshwater stocks. The future looks brighter than the past. I think the data we have from global pandemic will tell us a lot about fisheries and the food supply chain as a whole.

  25. I believe the word fish stocks are hurting. In my marine science class, this was discussed because of the way other many of the countries fish. Some countries overharvested their own waters and now fish others to feed their large populations. We have recognized that fish are hurting and have recovery plans in place. The problem is the Ocean is a very complex environment and has many obstacles.

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