Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Overfishing May Be Declining, But It Hasn't Gone Away

In some rare, moderately-decent environmental news, overfishing may be falling off some.

Two years after a study warned that overfishing could cause a collapse in the world's seafood stocks by 2048, an update says the tide is turning, at least in some areas.

[...]Of 10 areas of the world that were studied, significant overfishing continues in three, but steps have been taken to curb excesses in five others, Hilborn and Worm report. The other two were not a problem in either study.

This is indeed some fairly good news in an area (fishing and the oceans) that has seen some of the worst news regarding environmental change in recent years.

However, I think it's a bit premature to be saying that "Crabcakes and fish sticks won't be disappearing after all." As the article itself points out (and contradicts its opening statement), many fish populations are still at high levels of risk, and fishing in Europe (particularly around Scandinavia) continues to be particularly excessive. And even if people try to boycott fish from those parts of the world, sometimes the alternative is not much better. Certainly reducing the overfishing rates in several areas of the world is good news, but until we reduce overfishing entirely and populations can rebound (which is still a major question), saying the threat of overfishing is going away seems a bit premature.