Shifting baselines is what happens when generations end up having a different standard for what they consider normal. Relating to fish, this means that successive generations have a different, and typically lower, standard for what they consider plentiful. The current generations’ standard for a fish stock, in comparison to their grandparents or great grandparents standard, is a minute fraction. In the case of cod, as the generations fished more and more heavily, each generation expected less and less fish. So when cod populations dropped dangerously low compared to their historical numbers, the current generation didn’t see it that way, because they had never seen the historical abundance that had been. So since the current population had never seen the true abundance cod could be, and they were still catching a good amount of cod, they didn’t see the numbers as low. One way to avoid falling into the trap of shifting baselines is to establish historical numbers of fish, and current numbers of fish, and then basing the target population on actual numbers. When we go based just off stories our grandparents told us, it’s easy to write it off as over exaggerated nostalgia, but actual numerical data is harder to disprove.
This topic was modified 1 year, 8 months ago by alwhitney2.
I do believe that we should keep a better effort towards announcing the numerical populations of years past to the public in order for they too to understand the need for regulations on fish population. If we do this, then we can make sure that the public can know better when the next season comes.