Fisheries Disasters Circle United States

Derek Keats/CC BY-SA 2.0

Fish stocks are in dire straits on all sides of the United States at the moment, to the degree that the US Department of Commerce has declared disasters in the North Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Bering Sea, and Gulf of Alaska.

The declaration means that millions of dollars in relief funds could be heading to fishermen and the communities supported by fishing (but that's not a guarantee that the fishermen will actually see that money, the Seattle Post Intelligencer reports).

Mother Jones reports that the causes of the disaster are both due to natural factors as well as overfishing: In New England, even though current quotas are largely being followed for cod and yellowtail flounder, both stocks are not rebuilding; in Alaska chinook salmon are at low levels; off Mississippi, oysters and blue crab are the species of concern.

We've covered the issue of overfishing broadly many times, check out the links to the left to get up to speed.

Just 100 Middle Aged Cod Left in North Sea
On the other side of the Atlantic, cod stocks aren't doing well either. The Telegraph reports today that overfishing is such that no cod over the age of 13 has been reported caught in all of the previous year. The big deal in this is that cod can live to the age of 25, and don't reach sexual maturity until the age of 4. The lack of mature fish means that birth rate for cod as a whole is lower and declines in the species occur more quickly.

Amazingly, the latest assessment says that there may be just 600 cod left in the entire North Sea between 12-13 years of age, and just 100 left over the age of 13.

In the past four decades cod have been so overfished that current quotas are just one-tenth what they were in the 1970s.

Tags: Fishing | United Kingdom | United States

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