FTT #6

The collapse of the Newfoundland cod industry should have taught us two things: that fishing should be regulated and that data can be misleading. The largest amount of the nails in the coffin of this fisheries is that the fishermen weren’t properly managed. When people first settled along the Eastern shores of North America, it was said that you could walk across the water on the backs of cod. Within a few hundred years, there were boats from all over the world fishing these cod, mostly off the coast of Newfoundland. These fisheries were poorly managed, especially with the technological advancements including freezer boats and sonar. The new technology made it easier to stay out longer without losing the fish and the sonar made finding fish easier than ever. Until the sixties, international fishing was allowed in Newfoundland and that was the worst decision because the international boats outnumbered the Canadian fleet. After these boats were no longer welcomed in Canadian waters, the damage had already been done. It took another 30 years to almost completely wipe out the cod with just local fishing. Fisheries managers were confusing data. Sometimes they were seeing hauls that said it was the end of the world for these cod, and other times is appeared that the cod were making a comeback somehow. Something that wasn’t factored for was the when and where. The larger hauls that the managers were seeing were happening during breeding season, when cod tend to mass together in huge schools that not only made them easier to find and catch, but also made the cod numbers seem much larger than they were. By the year 1992, cod had just about vanished from the waters off of Newfoundland. In conclusion, the two major things we should have learnt from the collapse of the cod fisheries in Newfoundland is that the fishermen should be managed and that the data should always be looked at with respect to factors that may not be openly represented on a graph. You could say that all of this is the manager’s faults, and you wouldn’t be wrong in any way.

One thought on “FTT #6”

  1. Alex, you do a great job describing things. Being a fishery manager during this time had to be great and terrible at the same time. The lessons learned probably don’t outway the damage, but I am learning it today. I am not a fan of technology and it had a large part in the fall of the cod. The anger and distrust in the fishing community must be bad for the government and fishery managers.

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