Home Forums Due October 8 by 11:59pm Baselines

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    To me, a shifting baseline means an aspect that changes throughout time, and people continuously become accustomed to, making it normal or the expectancy. Baseline contributed to the demise of Northern cod by creating a false imagery of population. Each generation of fishermen accepted the current population as normal, even though it represented a dwindling population. The shifting baseline meant they failed to consider past populations in comparison to current, which would have otherwise indicated the cod collapsing.

    Avoiding falling in shifting baselines requires a widespread, encompassing viewpoint. Current events cannot be used to accurately depict how certain aspects have “always been’. Each generation must be considered, because each generation is equally important in providing a piece of a puzzle that creates a whole picture. For example, Greenberg mentions Ted Ames interviewed elderly fishermen, revealing that, contrary to government belief in there being only a few hundred miles of cod spawning grounds, there was a thousand square miles. Without the puzzle piece from the older generation of fishermen, the government’s cod management plan would have likely excluded these spawning grounds. As Greenberg goes on to note then, it is not always scientists, but rather fishermen that learn of fish species and spawning locations. They are the ones who have the first knowledge of normal expectancy, which means part of avoiding shifting baselines is not merely looking at the whole picture, but carefully choosing where to start the picture itself.


    I agree with the connection of the shifting baseline and the fall of the northern cod population in this, and the way to stop looking at the shifting baseline is something that I didn’t think of but is good.

    Isabella Erickson

    I agree that it is the long time fishermen who seem to develop the most accurate baseline. It seems like a part of the reason for the collapse of cod is that the scientists did not ask the fishermen what was normal, or their baseline for cod, before it was too late.


    I like that you brought up the interviewing of Ted Ames. Local knowledge can be an invaluable tool when trying to identify historical populations. Science has not always been around in the capacity it is today, so it is important to take into account the first hand knowledge that fisherman can provide.


    Your definition was clear and concise. I also enjoyed your method to stop looking at the baselines, this would hopefully yield good results.

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