Shifting Baselines

Home Forums Due October 8 by 11:59pm Shifting Baselines

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    I believe a shifting baseline starts when the generations youth first starts fishing, because that’s the farthest back any of the people in that generation can remember fishing. They then go on through their lives fishing at the same rate until they notice that by the time the fish populations have diminished, the next generation is well on the way towards fishing, and that reduced abundance is then their baseline. Much how like I can put my king salmon baseline like this: I was about 8 when I went to Anchor River to go clamming with the family. While we were there we decided to fish for king salmon, and while I personally didn’t catch any, I saw a lot of these fish swimming up the river and being caught, and soon became enamored with the sport. Since then I have fished up and down the Parks highway from Anchorage to Talkeetna trying to catch a king, however I caught none. As I grew older, I realized that the catches for these fish have been falling drastically, and while I was delighted to catch my first king when I was 17 (a full 9 years since I started), I knew that this wasn’t near the amount of fish one could have caught 20 years ago, even later. Now the rivers are closed off to the kings, the lowest its probably ever been. This is the same with the affect of overfishing for the northern cod. A good way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to continue making a population census for the fish, and set out regulations accordingly, so that we can keep the population as large and healthy as possible and makes sure we don’t fish to extinction.


    I enjoyed hearing about your own shifting baseline dilemma. It’s always interesting to hear about how our baselines were affected, and how they affect others too. It’s good that you are aware of your baseline phenomena, but others may not be.


    Hearing about other people’s experiences with shifting baselines just in their own lifetime highlights how rapidly things can change. I agree with you that we need to start collecting data in order to create a baseline population estimate that future generations can use.


    I grew up in city so didn’t have much chance to feel those changes in nature. I guess it can be scary when you really feel somethings going on and fish start disheartening but no idea what is going on. I agree making population census is important because that can allow us to see the trend and use that for regulations.

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Fish and Fisheries in a Changing World