In the opening sections of Billion Dollar Fish there are some immediate similarities and differences to the northern cod story of Newfoundland. What strikes you as similar? What is different?
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Some similarities I found between the openings of Billion Dollar Fish and the northern cod story of Newfoundland focused mainly on comparisons with the pollock fishery discussed in the novel: Both fisheries grew from obscurity to large, worldwide fisheries that developed with “explosive force” comparative to a gold rush, the activity within both fisheries led to exploitation and depletion, the primary stocks were whitefish, both fisheries built large ships, many within the fisheries sought great fortunes, there were numerous fights and contentious points regarding fisheries (political, economic, social, cultural aspects), both fisheries were largely Americanized over time, and there were cultural implications. Some differences I found were the lack of a pollock moratorium, discussion of cheating within fisheries, irregularities in the catching and reporting system of industrial fishing ships, and the issue of dredging the sea floor through the water column to catch shrimp (throwing back all other catch).
Further, I appreciate the insight into life on a Japanese commercial fishing ship. Cultural differences, communication faculties, and misunderstandings created a hostile environment. I want to learn if adequate safeguards exist for people working at sea. This can be an extremely isolated environment, meaning those on the boat need appropriate protection.
After the introduction, Bailey asks, “…is the wealth of the sea unlimited? This reminds me of northern cod stock as so abundant and fecund that the populations were inexhaustible. There are limits on the wealth of the sea. If you agree that there are limits on the wealth of the sea, what do you think these limits are?
I also really enjoyed Bailey’s sea stories; I can relate to the atmosphere that he talks about when you’re out to sea for long stretches. Being out to sea for any period of time for some purpose can foster a really tight and close bond between a group, so much so that it can often become insular. The pressure to conform and not present yourself as an obstacle to the work that the fishers are there to do must be tremendous, and any explicit or implicit hostility could make that environment unbearable to the person left out.
You made some really good points about this and I think your thought on cultural differences is really important. I agree that cultural differences in a workplace have the opportunity or potential to make the environment uncomfortable, especially in a field like fishing and fisheries. I wonder if there are people to be on these ships to monitor what goes on. Going off your isolation note, I don’t know how accurate this is, but I remember hearing that if you have a semicolon tattoo (it represents fighting with suicidal thoughts and wanting to end your life but choosing not to) that people are less likely to hire you for long trips or studies out on the water with the thought that you may become too isolated. But like I said, I don’t know the accuracy of that.
I can’t speak for foreign ships, but I know for the fisheries I participate in every boat over 40 ft is required to have an observer or electronic monitoring system, but this is mostly for monitoring the catch. Other than that there really isn’t any monitoring of what goes on when boats are fishing, besides the occasional ADF&G inspection. I would imagine that on 100+ foot ships there could be, but there isn’t room for an extra person on the majority of the local boats, some of which are as small as 13 ft. To the point about isolation, I think the majority of crewmembers just learn to get along with each other since I haven’t heard many (if any) stories of bad things happening while fishing.
In the very first paragraph of the book it becomes clear that there are many similarities between the northern cod story and the Alaskan pollock one. Both fisheries became massive sources of income at similar times, both were changed in a way in 1976 when the 200 nautical mile territorial waters law was passed, and both ended up getting overfished to the point of collapse. Another similarity is that both became large-scale, industrial fisheries, utilizing trawling and technologies developed during World War II, which made them both very productive and ultimately caused them to collapse. However, there are some differences. From what the book said it seemed like the pollock fishery did not really exist until 1950, whereas the northern cod fishery had existed in different forms for hundreds of years before it collapsed. Also, the pollock fishery still exists currently, it was just some of the major populations that collapsed instead of the entire fishery and is still (at the time the book was written) the largest fishery in the world, so it differs from the northern cod fishery in that way too. Another point of difference, at least between the stories as they were presented to us, is that the author of this book was involved in the pollock fishery well before the collapse, whereas both of the stories we were told about the cod fishery (the section of Four Fish and the presentation in class) were told by people who weren’t directly involved with the cod fishery until after the collapse, so it is a different perspective. Both collapses seem to be the result of bad management decisions, although the pollock fishery mostly got away with it.
Do you think there are any other factors as to why the pollock fishery is still up and running other than that just some of the populations were fished to collapse? I agree that these fisheries’ main reasons for collapsing were poor management and decisions.
Your last sentence was interesting- both collapsed due to bad management, but “the pollock fishery mostly got away with it.” I agree. Why do you think the pollock fishery got away with it and not northern cod?
Although the cod fishery came around before the pollock fishery, do you think the first settlers in Alaska (around 7000-8000 yrs ago) utilized this resource?
I appreciate that you pointed out the similarities between the causes of collapse for each fishery. The overlap of cause is something present-day fisheries should be taking into consideration.
I think one factor that could have led to the pollock fishery getting away with it was that the population was never so massive and present that it was a hazard to navigation like the cod were a long time ago, so there might not have been the illusion that the fish were infinite, but that’s just an idea. To your second point, I think that, for the same reason, pollock were not harvested by the first settlers of Alaska, because people might not have known that they were there, and there were other fish that were much easier to see and catch, like salmon.
The comparisons between the pollock and northern cod fishery stories boil down, in my view, to a fundamental struggle between ecological science, economic opportunity, and political interest. The similarities lie in their huge rise in harvest rates post-WWII, when technology allowed for greater catch capability. The conflict between international stock exploitation and exclusionary “nationalization” of the fishery is also an element that appears to be important in the history of pollock and northern cod. Further, I think that Bailey makes a specific point to discuss how those responsible for management of the fishery may often be internally conflicted and contradictory, and that the considerations that have to be taken into account for how a fishery is managed often extends beyond the pure science of the matter.
I think that the main difference lies in their chronological span, where northern cod was a longstanding fishery in the Atlantic while pollock as a major fishery is far younger relatively. I think that might have an additional factor in making the management decisions for pollock, where commercial cod fishing was shown as being very much entwined into the cultural fabric of places like Newfoundland, pollock may not have as much of a sentimental element despite a similar story of rise-and-fall in harvest. That dynamic might influence how both stories are presented, where northern cod is often presented as a tragedy in fisheries and pollock is (aptly part of this book’s title) an “untold story”.
I love the way you phrased the closing sentence to your writing!
It is interesting that the research and science does not always appear to take top priority when it comes to crucial moves and decisions in fisheries management. I hadn’t thought as much about the culture revolving around northern cod in comparison to Alaskan pollock. From what I understand from the readings, it seemed like the pollock fishery initially came into play due to a high demand for food purposes and it’s roe.
I appreciate your acknowledgment that considerations, decisions, and management strategies within fisheries expand well beyond solely scientific matters.
You stated that the chronological difference between the pollock and cod fishery is an important aspect; as the pollock fishery ages, do you expect it to share more similarities with the trajectory of northern cod? Further, how do you think the cultural entwining of a fish into the fabric of societies’/a society affects the outcome and experience of a fishery?
I agree with your observations!
At the beginning of Billion Dollar Fish, the author discusses the Alaskan pollock fishery and there are some similarities between that fishery and the story of the northern cod of Newfoundland. A few similarities are both fisheries grew rapidly in size and source of income compared to a gold rush, activities in and around the fisheries eventually led to exploitation and insufficiency of resources, and the main fish of the fisheries were whitefish. Some additional similarities are in 1976 when the 200-mile territory law was passed causing the fisheries to be overfished and eventually collapsed, both used technologies that were developed during World War II, and both were large-scale industrial fisheries before they collapsed.
There are also some differences between the northern cod and the Alaskan pollock. Some differences include the lifespan of the fisheries, the northern cod was a longstanding and successful fishery from before the 1900s whereas the Alaskan pollock fishery was quite younger, starting around 1950. An important and big difference is that the pollock fishery still exists due to large populations of pollock collapsing rather than the whole fishery. As of when the book was written, the Alaskan pollock fishery is the largest fishery worldwide, another major difference from the northern cod. A few additional differences were record keeping of catch, cheating within the fishery, and the use of dredging the seafloor.
These two real-life stories of fisheries have quite a bit in common as well as some important differences. I hope that fisheries now and in the future can take what these fisheries failed at and learn from them. Not to be cliche or anything but, they can learn from previous mistakes.
It is apparent that northern cod and Alaskan pollock both display similar “boom and bust” characteristics, having both soared in abundance, appearing to be endless fisheries resources. In the case with northern cod though, we learned that the habits of overfishing led to the overexploitation and overnight collapse of the fishery, whereas with the more current Alaskan pollock fishery, we have not yet experienced the same dramatic depletion to the point of collapse. Biologists and scientific researchers providing managers with advice for these fisheries seems to have not been effective for the case of northern cod, but perhaps has had some influence on the Alaskan pollock fisheries, which has had multiple declining dips in population and ultimately resulted in significantly decreased quotas in an attempt to be conservative with the resource. Either way, overfishing seems to be an overarching theme in both the northern cod and Alaskan pollock histories.
A major difference between these two fisheries lies in the time frame surrounding northern cod and Alaskan pollock, with northern cod having emerged significantly earlier on than pollock, and pollock standing as a viable fishery today. Entangled in both fisheries is a long history of opposing opinions when determining whether the harvest of the sea is inexhaustible. As time has passed and new technologies in the fishing industry have been utilized with both cod and pollock, we have more understanding of fisheries as a limited resource. The introduction of trawlers post-war revolutionized the fishing industry and aided fisheries scientists and researchers in understanding these limitations.
I liked the point you made about the improvement of both the technology and knowledge surrounding fisheries improving over time, which chronologically would place the cod and pollock fisheries at different levels due to their differing times of emergence. Considering how much has changed between the outset of these two fisheries, one could only imagine where the industry is heading in the next century or so.
I first noticed some similarities when Polluck was being introduced as a “catch all” type of fish. It seemed like it was being used as a substitute and easy solution to a lot of different issues due to its abundance. Cod was also used as a way to solve issues and create market space due to its abundance. Pollock are also predators for lower trophic fish. I remember learning about how cod are predators for lower tropic fish. This was especially apparent when the shrimp populations boomed when the cod populations were depleted. It’s also interesting that Alaskan pollock and Atlantic cod are genetically similar! One of the quotes that stood out to me was “Alaska pollock is the shy little sister of the cod fish.” Another similarity between cod and pollock is the severe depletion of populations due to overfishing.
I also had no idea that Polluck was so popular. It’s really interesting to think about how many times I have probably eaten Polluck and never knew that I was consuming it. I assumed I hadn’t ever had it before, but after reading this, it is clear that I definitely have. In the past, when I have eaten cod, I have always been aware of what I was eating. That seems to be one difference I have noticed between cod and pollock.
Another difference I noticed was the variety of products that pollock are harvested for. Polluck eggs are valuable in Asia, and the only part of it that is not used in some way is the skin.
I also had no idea that pollock was so popular and used for so many other things besides food. Growing up in Alaska most of the fish I eat are fish I’ve caught, so it makes me wonder if I have eaten pollock at restaurants and just not have known.
While I think there are some similarities between the opening of the book and the Newfoundland Cod fishery there’s quite a few differences too. Both of these stories are quite intriguing however as it shows the decline of fisheries and this can be a common thing of fisheries crashing and coming back.
Some similarities I saw were all these fisheries whether it be the freshwater ponds and canals or the ocean where these fisheries died off due to overfishing or other elements such as a bad winter. In both cases we saw the first hand experiences of these fisheries dying off and what happened to the environment and economy around them. Both of these fisheries suffered and caused life around these fisheries to suffer.
One major difference is that for the book it was the whole fishery with multiple species being affected while it was just the cod that crashed. For Greenberg his home fishery crashed where he knew when what species would be around during specific times of the year. While for Newfoundland this was just the cod that crashed, however, this probably caused other species to profit off of the lack of competition for food. Another example is that the beginning of Greenberg’s story is about freshwater versus the saltwater fishery.
While both of these cases were depressing and affected a lot of peoples day to day lives and their income. These cases also can be an important thing for these fisheries as this is normal in the animal kingdom of spikes and droughts of species. This kind of thing happens constantly and these fisheries hopefully came back stronger than before and the new regulations will protect them in the future.
I appreciate you bringing up how failed fisheries can also negatively impact the environments surrounding them, as I had mainly fixated on the human side of the topic and how only people were affected when reading. It is always important to consider all aspects of fisheries, which would include the environment these fisheries harvest from.
Kevin Bailey mentions in his book, “Billion Dollar Fish,” that pollock apparently evolved from Atlantic cod which would be the first immediate similarity that stuck out to me. This means that they likely have similar builds, meat types,they might even fill similar environmental niches you could then use similar fishing techniques to capture them. They also seem to have parallel story arcs when it comes to the exploitation of the fisheries, although the pollock fishery of Alaska is hopefully not quite at the same irreversible point that the cod fishery of the Grand Banks off of Newfoundland. The similarities of their fisheries management arcs begin with the typical misconception of the species being inexhaustible resources. They then progress to fill food needs locally followed by the eventual globalization of the fish as a food resource. Both fisheries seem to have been exploited by the international fishing community, as well as by local state/ provincial populations. The two fisheries are a couple of decades staggered in their exploitation (or are they/ comparably harvested percentage biomass?), so while the cod populations of the Grand Banks have declined past the point of return and the ecosystem is being forced to find a new equilibrium, it seems like there may still be some hope for the pollock populations in the arctic.
The biggest difference that stood out to me is the hope that there might be a chance to maintain a more sustainable population of pollock? I’m not sure if that is possible, but at least there has not yet had to be a moratorium placed on them, although I do hope it never has to get to that point.
Pollock and cod definitely seem to have many characteristic similarities to them, as you have pointed out. I think I recall reading how pollock are a schooling species, existing in large groups off the ocean floor. This similar to what I was remembering from the northern cod species, and I would think your mentioning of similar fishing techniques being used to harvest both species would be accurate! It sounded as though the two species were also similar in their ecological roles, as predators of lower trophic levels. If pollock were to collapse as northern cod did, it seems we would surely see increases in some of those lower trophic level species.
I definitely didn’t catch on to the genetic relationship between cod and pollock. I thought maybe it was coincidental that they faced similar surges in catch abundance and decline, but maybe you’re on to something in that their closer-than-thought genetic relationship might influence how they behave, and by extension, how they have been caught.
Both are schooling whitefish, but I didn’t think about their genetic connection. This paper (https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/034926v1) writes that what’s known today as walleye pollock is actually a hybrid of Arctic cod and Atlantic cod, which I thought was a funny coincidence.
The international fishing community and the local/state provincial populations sure did have a role in the exploitation. I am glad you mentioned the genetic builds between the two species and how you could catch the fish with similar fishing techniques.
Both the Newfoundland cod and Alaska pollock stocks were initially untouched by Big Fishing, harvested substantially only by niche groups or residents. However, their versatility (although I’ve read pollock has a milder flavor, cod is easily preserved) and biomass were soon enough taken advantage of by capitalist forces, inspiring a fervor of fishing and triggering waves of americanization, including massive, smoke-heaving ships, boosted by post-war programs meant to bolster the burgeoning fishing industry and it’s employees, and also commercial panic. (Sister fishes, indeed!) Pollock were almost unusually available and versatile: a lack of consensus between the political, economical, and ecological interests of fishery managers and the forces acting upon them resulted in uneasiness with their management and dispute over how they fit into both cultural and financial workings. Pollock has now declined, and is under stricter management – however, no moratorium has been enacted, pollock is still fished in international waters (albeit under quotas and is barred to new fishers). Their downfall doesn’t have ties to one particular country, but rather an ecosystem. I have the feeling that pollack is just a few strides behind her older sister, as the youngest is always apt to be, but maybe that’s a good thing – perhaps the current state of cod can help control the fate of pollock. Because they came later, the fishery swam into the (slightly desperate) hands of more-seasoned managers, who’d witnessed the catastrophe brought about by collapsed fish stocks and it’s dire consequences that ripple throughout all levels of societies.
I liked the optimism you had at the end of your post. I agree that the loss of the pollock fishery would be detrimental, I would argue that it would have greater ecological impacts than the loss of northern cod. But I liked how you pointed out that pollock have more well seasoned managers, who will hopefully have learned from the loss of northern cod.
In the opening paragraph of Billion Dollar Fish there were some similarities to the cod story of Newfoundland. They described fishermen coming to the arctic seas as a “gold rush.” Both fisheries grew at an alarming rate and fish became in high demand, they were also fished by large scale fisheries. With these fisheries we can see a boom and bust cycle, because the stock couldn’t keep up with the constant high demand. One of the main differences between the two is the time they occurred at and the fact that the pollock fishery has not completely collapsed. Which could be tied to the timing of the fisheries. There is new technology present and it could be related to why only some stocks of pollock have collapsed, but not all of them. There also seems to be more of an abundance of pollock because it was described as “world’s largest food fishery,” while the Newfoundland stock was only focused in that area. We also saw how it affected people’s way of life when the moratorium was put into place, because it was focused in Newfoundland.
Moving forward with the pollock, I hope that we can look at mistakes of the past and not repeat them. I feel like there is more progress with newer fisheries and trying to make sustainability top priority. One thing that was surprising about pollock fisheries management was that the National Marine Fisheries Service has the final say in pollock harvest. It also has “never allowed the harvest quota to exceed the recommended level set by scientists.” Which is not common in all fisheries, so it was interesting to see that they do this for pollock.
I agree! I think it’s very critical to look at past mistakes and attempt to not make the same mistakes in the present/future. Comparing the cod to the pollock is a great way to prevent a very huge mistake. And I agree with you that there are some good steps in place to preserve a sustainable fishery.
I agree with your statement that hopefully we can learn from past mistakes and make sustainability top priority. I am also hoping that, since we know more about fish and their habits, we can not severely deplete the pollock population in the way that we did with cod. I definitely think there is hope!
I agree with a lot of the points you brought up. Northern cod and Alaskan pollock seem to be very similar at the moment, and I agree that if we are not able to look at the mistakes of the past and learn from them pollock could be another lost fishery.
The intro to Billion-Dollar Fish provides exposition regarding the Alaskan pollock industry, its status and potential future forming a few notable parallels between itself and the North Atlantic cod fishery. For one, both of these fish are/were Ubiquitous in the economies they were involved with, with Pollock comprising around 40% of the U.S. catch at the time the book was written, and its fishery bringing in around $1 billion annually. Also like Cod, the catch for pollock has gone down in recent years, albeit not as drastically. This decrease in catch doesn’t really have an agreed-upon cause, with the idea of overfishing within the fishery being a heavily debated topic. This confusion at the management level could also be considered a similarity between the two fisheries, as a disagreement regarding the maximum total catch in the nineties is what ended up doing Cod in. A major difference between the two would be their age, with the Atlantic Cod fishery being far older than that of Pollock. Due to its age, Cod had to contend with the cultural pressure that had grown to surround it, which was a contributor its collapse. Pollock, on the other hand, is much younger, and lacks some of this aforementioned pressure, which has made its management a little easier to deal with in that sense. The Pollock fishery’s current youth also means that less resources have had to go into renovations of its practices and management in comparison to older fisheries like that of Cod. While I think looking at case studies such as the Atlantic cod fishery is an important step in assuring that fisheries going forward become less prone to mistakes made in the past, I also believe it is important to understand that there are several factors that make any given fishery unique, and these factors will also need to be put into consideration whenever talking about what a fishery’s next steps should be.
I agree! You made a great point in saying that all fisheries are unique and shouldn’t always be so closely compared. That was a great point to throw out there. In your opinion what should the “next step” be for the pollock fishery? What makes the pollock fishery unique?
I wanted to respond to your thought about the pollock fishery being a contextually younger fishery, because while it may be younger another difference would be that it is not yet considered overfished. Do you think that without pressure/ management change now, there may be that impending overexploitation of the pollock fishery, but it will be just a little too long after the collapse of cod (I guess another unfortunate death of a species due to shifting baselines)?
The foreboding and foreshadowing tale tells signs of something coming is the feeling I get. I know how the Northern cod played out and I can kinda tell from the first few paragraphs/chapters that Bailey hints at something not right in the pollock fishery. He titled one of his paragraphs Are Pollock Overfished and if you have to ask the question I would guess yes. You can see in the prologue that other nations rely on Pollock as they did northern cod, and they definitely reaped the reward a little too much (Bailey’s observer story with the Japanese mothership). And the same thing is seen once the Law of the Sea was put in place. America began to capitalize off the Pollock industry as did the Canadians with the cod. Now what I think is different was I got the feeling that the Pollock are still doing okay whereas the cod were already in such a bad shape that there was no hope for return.
From what I’ve read online, fishing industries operating out of Japan also handle catch quotas for tuna poorly. (One chef bought a tuna weighing in at 608 pounds for 1.8 million USD. ) Whales, too, are an especially sensitive subject. Take it with a grain of salt, though.
This was my first time hearing about pollock. I didn’t even really know it existed, but man was this interesting! Obviously, the rises and falls of fish and the industries around their management are similar between the two books, but a very outright difference is the fact that the styles of language in each writer’s writing is so personally unique to each person.
The similarities I saw about the opening pages and the Newfoundland northern cod story are the Alaska pollock fishery outstripping the supply, if I remember correctly the Newfoundland northern cod decline was due to the cold temperatures in Canada as well as overfishing. “The current demand for Alaska pollock outstrips the supply. Pollock is the most lucrative marine fish harvest in American waters and compromises about 40% of the US catch. (13) Another similarity I noticed was the catch of the pollock and the Newfoundland northern cod had good years of harvest and some bad years of harvest. Figure 1.1 on page 13 shows that the Alaskan pollock fishery had a dramatic rise in the early 1970s, and then the collapse happened in 1972 due to preys in the ocean, and climate “regime” shifts that are sometimes associated with changes in the ecosystem(13) . On lecture slide 29 it shows the same pattern, good years and bad years with the collapse due to the temperatures. One last similarity I noticed was the fact that these two fishery’s were really big, the one in the book says that it still remains the world’s largest human food fishery (13). Then in Newfoundland the cod is basically the fish, I liked how he compared it to the Bristol Bay fishery.
The difference about the Northern cod fishery and the pollock fishery is that the pollock fishery started in 1950 (according to the figure 1.1) and the Northern cod fishery started in the early 1500s. So the pollock fishery is a younger fishery that is growing and the Northern cod fishery is fairly old.
I appreciated that one of the differences between the fisheries you mentioned was that the cod fishery decline also had to do with an initial population decline due to ocean cooling . I wonder if pollock were impacted by the same “mini-ice age” but were able to bounce back as they were not yet being exploited as heavily.
I like how you included that the changes in ecosystems can also cause the stock to decline. I wonder if we were to look at other species of fish in the fishing industry if we would see a similar trend in those species as well.
I think it’s important to point out that the pollock fishery is a lot younger than the cod fishery. Hopefully we can catch the overfishing before it’s too late. It will be interesting to learn about how fishermen and members of the pollock fisheries cope with restrictions on fishing.
The similarities between the northern cod stock and the Alaskan pollock stock are numerous, and I think that these similarities exemplify that if caution is not taken with the Alaskan pollock the fishery has the potential to end up exactly like that of the northern cod. These similarities are the contention over whether these stocks were/are being overfished and are declining as a result of this, or are declining as a result of climate changes. There also have been large declines and increases in the fish stocks. It also is contentious as to if the fisheries are/were being overfished at all. Along with this the size of these fisheries is another similarity, both were very large fisheries that were crucial to the local economy. There also are a few key differences between these two fisheries. The first being the history, northern cod had a very long history in Newfoundland, with the fishing of this fishery going back to the time of Vikings. In comparison the Alaskan pollock fishery is very young, starting in the 1950s. Another difference between these two is the management. It was stated that the Alaskan pollock fishery is completely privatized, while there was no mention of this with the northern cod fishery.
You’re right on the part about the Alaska pollock fishery having the potential to end up exactly like the Newfoundland northern cod fishery. It is interesting to see how the graphs fluctuate in these two fishery’s throughout the years. I didn’t get to reading about the management about the Newfoundland northern cod fishery and the Alaska pollock fishery so thanks for putting that out there. I am in the same boat as you about the fisheries being overfished at all, I couldn’t really find anything about the fisheries being overfished.