In the current issue of Science twenty-one leading ocean scientists declared a truce–it’s as if Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner agreed to stop the chase for a day. The paper was authored by many of the biggest names on all sides of the debate on ending overfishing–Boris Worm, Ray Hilborn, Andy Rosenberg and Chris Costello. So what are the terms?
First, they agree on what I will call a “Goldilocks” catch level (You know–not too hot, not too cold, but just right.) If we fish too much, then fish get smaller, catch levels eventually go down and lots of species end up on the road to ruin. If we fish too little, we can keep the fish in the oceans healthy, but fish for people goes way down. Fishing just right would mean aiming to catch about 20 percent of ocean fish every year. At that level, fish would be bigger, the long term catch would be stable at a high level, and the news for ecosystems–whales, dolphins, and turtles–would be good too; at least 90% of species would be at healthy levels-which is quite a bit better than we are doing now.
The second part of the paper is where the scientists waded into the hot debate on ... Read more