Shifting Baselines

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

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    Kortney Birch

    The term “shifting baselines” by Daniel Pauly infers that every generation has their own quota of a “normal” population size or a “normal” impact on nature. Throughout the years, this baseline drops lower because of the population’s demise. It makes sense that the “normal” would keep decreasing because of humans using up the fish at an increasing rate. “It turns out that codfish on Georges Bank and other offshore areas are populations of last resort” because of humans taking advantage of this resource (Greenberg 148). Codfish eventually became more and more consumed normally and as a result, stock rates dropped over the years. Just like the “shifting baseline’ claim, the codfish rates have shown a similar trend and haven’t exponentially recovered.

    The changing measurement is not showing a promising future for cod fish, but it is possible to turn their fate into a more promising future. If humans stopped taking natural resources for granted and spread out our intake of resources more widely, we could potentially decrease the risk of killing off a species. It is completely understandable to want to utilize fish as a common staple in a person’s diet, but we can’t just run something dry then move on to the next thing because we aren’t preparing our next generation. But I still do believe that humans should use animals as a source of food if they want, but we should just be more respectful and ensure the future generations aren’t destined to keep decreasing until they reach depletion.


    I agree with you that we need to ensure that we are not depleting one resource and just moving to another, and to do this we need to significantly improve our management strategies. In many cases managers of natural resources often don’t rely on scientific analysis of data and recommendations by the scientists who know how to interpret the numbers. The scientists are the ones who can realize when baselines are shifting and managers need to weigh their recommendations heavier than the need for profit when considering their fishery.

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Fish and Fisheries in a Changing World