Due November 11 by 11:59pm

I was late posting this prompt, so you have until Wednesday before midnight and NO responses are required (but feel free….extra effort can be rewarded)

In the current section of Billion Dollar Fish the author tells the lamentable tale of the rise and fall of the Donut Hole.  In a short post (ca. 300 words) , describe as you understand it the factors that led to the collapse in the Donut Hole, making sure to make clear you understand what the Donut Hole is, why it is important in the story of Alaska pollock, and perhaps how it might related to the fall of northern cod. 



30 thoughts on “Due November 11 by 11:59pm”

  1. The Donut Hole is an area of water in the Bering Sea that lies between territorial claims, specifically between the United States and Russia. In the 1980s, a population of pollock was discovered and began to be harvested. It was harvested heavily by other countries, especially Japan, as they had just been pushed out of the Bristol Bay and Eastern Bering Sea area after Americanization gave the US priority to the catch caught within the 200 mile limit. This take over pushed other countries out of that area and into the Donut Hole. Due to it being international waters, there were little to no regulations on fishing and fish catches, and scientists knew little of what the population looked like. By the time that scientists began to look at population numbers, a fishery had already been established. Catches continued to increase significantly as technology got better and better, with a harvest of 1.5 million tons of fish in 1989. Foreign scientists did little to curb this, as they estimated the population to be very large, unlike US scientists who thought it was smaller. As countries such as China, Japan, and Poland continued to fish for pollock, and fuel their economy by providing these jobs on ships, the stock and the catches went down and eventually the fishery had to be closed. This fishery caused a major fall in the population of Alaska pollock, with the loss being about 20 billion fish in just a few years. It is unsure when the population will recover, and while it may not have the biggest effect on humans, it did impact the ecology of the area. Humans lost their profit, but seabirds and marine mammals lost their food. This is not an entirely different story from that of the northern cod off the coast of Canada. In both situations, fisheries scientists and managers took the catch abundance to reflect the population abundance, and they severely overestimated the number of fish that they could take without seriously damaging the population. Finally, neither saw and understood the consequences before it was too late.

    1. One thing I did find to be interesting in the reading was that historical records show that herring would be abundant for a period of 20-50 years, then disappear for 50-70 years. That is an interesting phenomenon to me. They are gone longer that they are abundant. I wonder if the pollock stock will find a way to rise up and return in 10-20 years. I’d be curious to know if that becomes a pattern for pollock as well.

    2. You make a really good point about the effect of the fisheries collapse on that ecosystem. Fish are an important part of the food web and it is such a big issue that other animals lost their source of food when those fish were made extinct by us. Our actions have a much wider reaching impact than we think sometimes.

    3. I agree that both the northern cod and pollock fisheries tanked due to similar negligence and just simply taking a resource for benefit and ignoring the inevitable negative outcome.

    4. I think the hubris, for lack of a better word, of fisheries biologists in both the pollock and cod stock collapses is interesting to point out. I find it interesting that we seem to continually overestimate the amount of fish we can catch in an area.

  2. Pollock found in the Donut Hole were believed to be considered a ” Straddling ” population, or part of a larger population in the Aleutian Basin that progressed across international boundaries of water, but no one really knew where the fish came from. It’s difficult to assess how many pollock once existed in the Aleutian Basin, but fishery models estimate that nearly 13 million tons of pollock age 5 and older were present in the US zone of the Basin around 1983. By far the highest reported catch of the Aleutian Basin, including US and international Donut Hole waters was nearly 1.7 million tons in 1987. Thus making the Donut Hole, the greatest harvest area of its time. In 1988 however, the biomass plunged to less than 50 percent of its peak, with catch still increasing. In 1922, at only 6 percent of the maximum, with declines in harvests a collapse had occurred similar to the collapse of the northern cod. The Donut Hole fishery as a whole didn’t really escalate until Americanization of harvests within the territorial waters of the US occurred and pushed foreign fisheries into the international zone of the Basin. The US fishermen had first priority to the ” Total Allowable Catch “, out to a 200 mile radius as a result of the FCMA of 1976. It was only then when US fleets reached their capacity, that the foreign fleets moved into the international waters of the Donut Hole, creating the fishery to intensify. In 1985, reports were coming out that the Donut Hole reached 360,000 tons of fish. Then there were attempts to shut down the fishery. In 1988, Alaskan senator Ted Stevens pushed for a call for an International Moratorium, but fishing still went unchecked. Catches in the international waters of the Donut Hole were unregulated as well as misrepresented. By the time the fishery was put to a halt in 1994 by the Central Bering Treaty, it was already too late. This relates to the fall of the northern cod, because they to were too late to solve the problem at hand when it was right in front of them. 

    1. I appreciate that Ted Stevens pushed for the International Moratorium. At least Alaska government officials were showing concern, at that time. Although, it seems almost impossible for government officials from one location of the world to really make a change. Because the fishing took place in international waters, I can see why it would require a vast number of people to force the fisheries to stop.

  3. Walleye Pollock, or Alaska Pollock, helped found North America’s most plentiful and profitable natural fishery in history. The Donut Hole was located in the Aleutian Basin of the Central Bering Sea, just sitting outside of the US and Russian 200 mile limit for fishery regulations that prevented foreign fleets from decimating fish populations. This area was home to an overwhelmingly healthy Walleye Pollock population that would later produce 1 million ton catches, in some years even more, during just one winter season. Though, this area wasn’t frequently monitored by biologists and absolutely had some unknowns as far as Aleutian Basin Walleye Pollock migrations went, making it hard to regulate and manage in general. The Donut Hole would go on to be considered home to the most catastrophic fisheries crash to date, completely outweighing the large Cod crashes seen in Newfoundland/Labrador, but would receive very little attention. The donut hole did not have the strict regulations that the waters within the 200 mile limit did have, leaving it almost completely unprotected from overfishing. Due to the lack of regulations, foreign fleets were not pushed out of this area and arrived equipped with large factory trawlers and were able to completely decimate Walleye Pollock numbers. The entire Donut Hole Pollock population was absolutely and undeniably destroyed by the early 90’s and still has not been able to make a comeback.

    1. It’s interesting because I have heard so little about this stock crash. And, considering it happened only a few decades ago, and right in our backyard, it seems like it would be discussed more. Given how much fisheries knew about the Atlantic cod crash and how the biomass of Atlantic cod had been declining rapidly, I’m surprised the pollock fisheries didn’t implement strict regulations early on. It’s too bad it took until 1994 to get a treaty signed.

  4. The Donut Hole is the area of water in the central Bering Sea, between Russia and Alaska, and just beyond the continental shelf. It’s located in the exclusive economic zone (200 mile limit), so it’s considered to be international waters. Bailey explains how the pollock fishery that took place in the 1980s became one of the world’s most incredible collapses of fish stocks in modern history. He attributes this to fisheries piracy, illegal fishing, and overfishing. When the pollock stock of the donut hole was discovered in the 1970s, many were surprised because pollock are typically shelf-dwelling fish. Scientists knew nothing about this particular stock nor did they know where it came from or how the stock migrated. Before fishery scientists could collect enough data, a stealthy fishery for pollock had begun, and most catches came from non-US vessels. In 1983, it was estimated that 13 million tons of pollock, age five and older, were in the US zone of the Aleutian Basin (pg 76). According to the Biomass table on page 77, the biomass of the stock was approximately 13,000,000 metric tons. Within five years, the biomass had decreased to less than 50%, but the total harvest in metric tons continued to increase. By 1992, the biomass had plummeted to less than 1,000,000 metric tons, and in 2007, it was estimated to be around 309,000 tons. That is a drop of 98% from 1983. The heavy fishing that took place in the Donut Hole from the various countries other than the US had a direct effect on the stock population of the Aleutian Basin. The catches in the Donut Hole were unregulated before the pollock fishery in that area was officially ended by the Central Bering Treaty in 1994. Studies can find no connection between the collapse of the stock and environmental factors or a change in vegetation, therefore most attribute the fall to poor management, overfishing, and illegal fishing.

    1. It’s just insane that the population dropped by 98%. This shows us that we need to have regulation in fisheries so that nothing like this can happen again. Illegal fishing and piracy have a huge impact on the ecosystems affected, even more than we think, and poor management can lead to really detrimental effects.

  5. A major reason for the collapse of pollock in the Donut Hole is due to the political nature of the Hole itself – it is an area of international waters between areas claimed by different nations. This region of the Bering Sea is west of Alaska but to the east of Russia. It’s essentially a circle on the map of water that doesn’t belong to any one nation. This meant that there were no fishing regulations set for that area, but since pollock abounded, a lot of fishing took place by many nations. It is beyond the continental shelf and had a population of pollock that we don’t know much about. It could have been its own population, or it could have been a population that migrated between other pollock populations in national waters. Japan, the USSR, China, Poland, and South Korea began fishing in the Donut Hole when the abundant pollock population was discovered. This was amplified when Americanization of the pollock harvests within 200 miles of the American coast began and foreign fishers were pushed out beyond that zone. We don’t know how many fish were there because no stocks were recorded, but over twenty years, the population was estimated to decline from 13 million tons to only 300,000 tons. This was a total collapse of the population, similar to the northern cod fishery off of Newfoundland. Though a few countries had considered placing limits on the fishery, too many countries wanted pollock and it continued to be fished without limits for far too long. In 1993, a moratorium was put in place, but the fishery was almost extinct by then. The lack of communication between nations, the lack of regulations, and the lack of any sort of documentation in the Donut Hole led to a major and totally avoidable collapse of a pollock population. This is sort of similar to the northern cod story, as regulations forced people to fish those populations, and not enough consideration was taken when analyzing the stock, resulting in a collapsed fishery and a moratorium.

  6. The Donut Hole is the international zone in the middle of the Bering Sea that lies between Alaska (U.S. waters) and Russia (USSR.) This area has many different names indicating that the waters are prone to piracy and illegal fishing. The Donut Hole was a huge score for the fishermen in the area as a collective the catch during the peak pollock fishery (1980s) was in the millions of pounds a day. Many of the fishermen that took part in the fishing within that area were not from the U.S. but from Japan, USSR, Poland, China, South Korea, and a few other countries. There were an estimated 13 million tons of pollock in the Donut Hole during 1983 along the Aleutian Basin. The noticeable decrease of the pollock population began in 1988, when pollock biomass dropped to less than half of 1.7 million tons it only continued to dwindle after this. To many this came as a surprise but in 1989 the catch from the hole was an estimated 1.5 million tons. Those numbers didn’t hold up for very long, a few years later the stock fell to less than 300,000. In 1994, the Central Bering Treaty had finally put a stop to fishing in the hole. Unfortunately, they were too late and the stock was incredibly low and the new gear tech was no match for the fish. As we know overfishing or simply the decreasing amount of fish stock can have large impacts within the food web along the trophic levels as well as impacts on other animals that rely on fish for survival which can be observed in both the Newfoundland cod fishery and the Alaska Pollock.

  7. The Donut Hole is located in the central Bering Sea. Outside of the 200-mile fishery conservation zone of the United States and Russia. The waters are much deeper than the surrounding continental shelf. The area is considered to be international waters and can be fished by any nation. The book mentions this to be a “first come, first served” fishery of pollock. The Donut Hole was first discovered to be a spawning area for pollock in 1983. Americanization of U.S. waters caused foreign vessels to begin fishing the Donut Hole for pollock. Many nations fished the area with relatively no regulations. One of the problems was that there was no baseline population estimate when the fishing began in 1981. The fishery focused on pre-spawning females for the role that was highly valued on the world market. The area was highly productive, with catches in 1985 generating 360,000 tons. Concerns for the fish populations were raised enough that by 1988, Senator Ted Stevens requested an international moratorium. There was pushback from many countries because of the economic impacts that it would cause. The Donut Hole continued to be fished with more aggression reaching 1.5 million tons in 1989. The catches went against American scientist’s population estimates, and foreign scientists reported populations 15 million tons. In the following years, catch dramatically reduced, and in 1992 a catch of 10,000 tons proved that the populations were in significant danger. This was what was needed to prove the 1955 ruling that fisheries had to be overfished in international water by science to close the fishery. The pollock is much like the northern cod story because warning signs of overfishing were recognized and ignored because of economic damage to other countries. Technology made fishing vessels capable of finding the pollock and catching them very efficiently, much like northern cod. The means of calculating the populations were based on the effort to catch and overestimating the populations. The pollock fisheries were different than the northern cod because of the location of the Donut Hole. Coastal communities and indigenous people weren’t as reliant on the pollock as the northern cod.

    1. I like how you brought up the moratorium that resulted in no action taken. I find it unfortunate that a prohibition was being requested, but to me, the policy makers ignored at that time because they were profiting off the current harvest.

  8. The Donut Hole is an area in the Berlin Sea that pollack just love, mostly due the the abundance of their food sources. The Donut Hole crashed due to the overfishing of that area by fishermen. As we all know, if one part of the ecosystem is off balance the whole ecosystem can fall apart if something isn’t done to restore balance, and of course people didn’t do anything and continued to fish that area. Pollack as described in Billon- Dollar Fish is used for all kinds of things and for the most part the whole fish is used, which explains the over exploitation of the Donut Hole since pollack thrive there.

  9. The Donut Hole is an international zone within the Bering Sea and between Alaska and the USSR with tons of pollock within it’s waters. The Donut Hole is known as “no man’s land” and is considered a place where fishermen could overharvest and not get caught doing it. No fishermen really understood where the pollock was coming from, but it did not matter because there was fish in the water so that means their nets would be in the water as well. It wasn’t just Americans fishing in those waters, but international boats too. The numbers of fish caught inside the Donut Hole were being used to calculate fish populations, but those numbers were not accurate and not the correct way to estimate the abundance of a species. The numbers of landings are also skewed by the fact that there is no telling how many fish were caught by international boats.

    One of the leading causes for this pollock fisheries crash involves the new technology introduced to the fishermen. Billions of fish were being harvested because boats were able to stay out for longer and fish deeper because of the invention of deep-sea trawlers and new radar systems could see where the fish were in real time as well. Fishermen did not understand that they were overfishing the pollock and at the same time, destroying the bottom of the ocean and killing an entire ecosystem. Fishermen lost their jobs, other species lost a food source, and the downward spiral of yet another crashed fishery starts and ends badly. Kevin Bailey writes in “Billion Dollar Fish” that the pollock fishery went under specifically because of overfishing, human error, and carelessness of the environment. Fishermen are out on the waters because they love to fish but management is involved in fisheries because they want money and did not realize it would run out because the ocean is not bottomless.

  10. The Donut Hole is similar to the international waters between Norway and Russia, known as the Peanut Hole. The fishery did not excel until after the Fisheries Conservation Zone out to 200 miles was implemented from the Fisheries Conservation Management Act of 1976. The location was off the Aleutian Basin region in the international waters of the United States and Russia. After WWII, the same sonar technology used on the Northeast coastal waters was being used in the Pacific Northwest. During the 1980s, the walleye pollock were discovered in the deep waters in this region. The Bering Sea produced millions of tons of the species and were harvested by the U.S, Japan, former USSR, South Korea, and others. Reported catches in the mid 80s reached over 350 thousand tons and surged over the next few years. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council called for a prohibition on fishing efforts but actions taken were never done. After 1989, a significant drop in harvest occurred and three years later, the fishery came to an abrupt halt. Very interesting in the year that this took place, same as with the cod fishery.
    The decline in the fishery did not receive the attention like the Northern Cod industry. This may have been due to the remoteness of the region as the impact on fishing communities seemed to appear absent. The effects on the species that fed on the pollock were too distant from observers to reach a concrete conclusion if they were impacted by the fall of the fishery. Outside of regulated waters, the Donut Hole provided access to foreign fishers which contributed to the collapse of the fishery. The similarities between the cod and pollock can mirror each other in many ways. Overfishing in unchecked international waters, large fishing operations being conducted in a concentrated region, and unreported catches became major factors in the collapse of this fishery.

    1. I think the collapse of the pollock not having as much of an impact was due to its history. It was more of a substitute from what I understand. Northern Cod had much more of a rich history of people relying on them.

  11. The Donut Hole is an international region in the Bering Sea that is outside the boundaries of the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of Russia and America. The international waters status allowed for multiple countries to have access and fish there will no regulation and only self-reported catches. When the Fisheries Conservation and Management Act (FCMA) was passed and the process of Americanization began, foreign countries began looking for new fishing grounds. The Donut Hole was known for its large pollock population and fishing in the region intensified, often targeting spawning aggregations. During this time technology was improving at a fast rate making it possible to catch more and more fish. As fishing intensified, pollock populations in the region began to decline under the burden of added fishing pressures. Certain scientist recognized the signs of the fall, but many governments argued that their countries relied on the industry, so fishing continued. In 1993, an international moratorium was place on the fishing of pollock in the Donut Hole and the population has yet to recover.
    The fall of the pollock population in the Donut Hole is important because there is some evidence to suggest that adults from the region supplied coastal waters with juveniles, though this is one of many thoughts. This collapse is important to understand because if shows the dangers of having a region with no regulation with regards to fishing. It is comparative to the northern cod collapse because there were voices saying that something was wrong however those in charge chose not to listen. This situation is slightly more complicated compared to the story of northern cod considering that multiple countries were involved with scientist coming to different conclusions. This collapse did not have the same devastating impact as the fall of norther cod did though. With the Donut Hole being virtually located in the middle of the ocean there were no ties to the coastal communities like there were with norther cod. The consequences of the collapse went essentially unnoticed to the general public because of the far off location and the focus of research papers demonstrates that.

    1. The remoteness of the fishing grounds didn’t impact specific communities the same as the Northern Cod stood out to me most. The reasons for the pollock population crash sounded very much like the cod.

  12. The “Donut Hole” was a stock of pollock and area of ocean in the Aleutian basin section of the Bering Sea. It is located in international waters in between the US and Russia. In 1982 the law of the sea was adopted and the coastal waters near Alaska were “Americanized” and foreign fishermen were pushed out. The Donut Hole was in international waters and multiple countries had access to it meaning a larger than normal amount of fishing boats operated there. In the 1970s, just as with the northern cod, fishing technology was becoming better and better and this, combined with overfishing, culminated in the collapse of the Donut Hole stock of pollock in the 1980s. In 1993 fishing in this area was banned, but the stock has yet to recover, and it has caused pollock stocks all over Alaska to decline. Just as with cod, the stock collapsed completely and has yet to recover. However, this is different than the northern cod as this collapse was due to the problems with regulating fisheries in international waters whereas the cod collapse was due to a single nations regulatory failure. Part of this regulatory failure was due to the inadequate amount of research in the area prior to the fishery developing. No one knew how many fish were in the area so a sustainable baseline could not be determined, and catches continued to go up to a high of 1.7 million tons, but eventually fell to less than 10 thousand tons prior to the fishery being closed.

  13. The Donut Hole is known as the no man’s land in the middle of the Bering Sea. It was where multiple nations who were pushed out with the Americanization of the Alaskan pollock industry sent their trawlers to fish for the pollock.
    In my opinion the Donut Hole fishery for pollock was doomed to fail from the start. There were little to no regulations being enforced due to it being in international waters. The fishermen were lying about their catch and they were being supported by their bosses and nations in their deceit. The numbers were misrepresented in all aspects of this fishery. From the catch reported to the amount of fish actually seeming to be present in the sea, it was all misrepresented, setting up the collapse of the Donut Hole.
    The devastation of the Alaskan Pollock population in the Donut Hole has lost us 20 billion fish over the years. The fishery was overfished to the point of devastation, it really shows what could happen if we don’t keep heavy regulations on the fishery within the 200 miles from our Alaskan shore. If we aren’t careful it would be a horrible collapse of a fishery used worldwide.
    To me the Pollock collapse in the Donut Hole and the northern cod collapse are similar because they both had such bad regulations that the population was overfished to the brink of extinction in those areas. If people had paid more attention to the populations and the abuse of the fisheries then these fisheries could have been saved and continued being a valuable resource for us. Instead when the concerns were brought up, there were countries who didn’t want to stop the fishing because of how much profit they were gaining, so in the end they couldn’t agree and nothing changed, which directly correlates to the collapses of the fisheries.

  14. The Donut Hole is an international zone outside the exclusive economic zone of the USSR and the United States. This area was heavily fished for by multiple countries because of the massive amount of pollock that resided there. Due to the decline in this species, the populations of sea lions and fur seals declined. Given what was known about these Alaskan pollock it was odd when a massive school of them was discovered in very deep water in the Alaskan basin in the 1970s. It is very difficult to determine just how many fish dwelled in the Donut Hole but they were believed to be a dwindle from the actual population that migrated from closer to shore. Once the Fisheries Conservation Act was passed, the number of fisheries that started to fish for the Alaskan pollock increased by quite some margin. The collapse of this fishery is in some ways related to the collapse of the Newfoundland cod fishery in 1992. In both cases, the disappearance of the fish was mainly induced by overfishing. Pollock became popular and a very large part of the fishing industry and overall the economy. So when they disappeared, it made the economy unstable and cause an economic crisis. Anytime a fishery collapses it has more than just economic effects. Because most of the time these fish that are fished for so heavily are in the middle trophic levels, it causes an unbalance in the ecosystem. Like with the Newfoundland cod fishery collapsed, after the cod disappeared the shrimp and crab populations in the area skyrocketed. And many times the higher-level trophic species will decline in numbers because one of their major food sources is gone.

  15. A “Donut Hole is the international waters in the middle of the Bering Sea that are between the United States and what we know as Russia today. The reason why the Donut Hole collapsed is because the concentrated fishing from various countries would over fish in a small area. There were no rules or regulations in place to protect the fish from overharvesting. Though the Central Bering Treaty halted all fishing in that corridor by the time that treaty was passed it was to late for the pollock due to the improved efficiency. Since the high seas is unregulated territory it was difficult to actually get an accurate count on the stock population. The pollock that in the Donut Hole did not have any ties to it so people would categorize it as foreign. With that kind of mind set on a fisheries people saw it as greed to feed and get paid. As years passed almost 13 million tons of pollock was harvested from the Donut Hole.
    How I see it related to Northern Cod is that the unregulated and overharvesting of the fisheries became it’s doom. Inaccurate assessment of the stocks and unregulated fishing occurring by other countries the stock continues to decline. Leaving a major ecological/economic impact as it did in Newfoundland where the fish almost vanished. That is why an accurate assessment and regulations towards foreign countries are in place. To sustain the fisheries at a healthy level while not creating a major disaster from happening.

  16. The Donut Hole was an Alaskan walleye pollock fishery in the Aleutian Basin of the central Bering Sea that was the largest North American fishery in the 1980’s and its collapse was the largest fishery collapse in North America, even bigger than the northern cod and Pacific sardine collapses. This collapse was only recognized in the 1990’s. Through the 1980’s it was fished primarily by foreign fisheries of Japan and the USSR and was overfished, annual harvest reaching to 1.5 million tons or more, similar to the northern cod situation but was caused partly by the Fisheries Conservation and Management Act. The Act pushed foreign fisheries to pollock, away from cod. By 1991, the US fisheries, Russia, Japan, South Korea, Poland, China and Taiwan came together to negotiate the stock in the “Donut Hole Convention” and it came to the Donut Hole Agreement that upheld regulations such as live satellite transmitters on all vessels to ensure only to and from fishing hole travel and boarding and inspection of any vessel to uphold strict management and regulations to prevent more overfishing.

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