Can we guarantee an infinite number of fish for future generations?
The price is not right
In fisheries, some economists say that everything will be fine if we can “get the price right”. I say that if we can determine the value and set it correctly, we will be better able to live in harmony with nature. Assigning an adequate value to fish will help assess the long-term cost of ocean depletion that results in the disappearance of too many fish, too quickly, in too many areas. .
Marine fisheries are vital to the livelihoods of tens of millions of people around the world. It contributes directly and indirectly to the food and nutritional security of billions of people by providing them with seafood and generating tens of millions of jobs and salaries. This is especially true in the least developed coastal countries of the world, where the ocean provides up to 20% of animal protein.
Wild fish stocks are a renewable resource that can continue to feed and sustain people until the end of time, if used wisely. Mathematically, anything that continues to generate a positive gain, no matter how small, will add up indefinitely.
No one wants the death of an ocean. To prevent this, we need to adopt the infinite fish mode of thinking: an accurate and comprehensive assessment of all the benefits the ocean provides – seafood, carbon sequestration, recreation, culture, heat absorption – beyond what is marketed.
What it costs to ignore nature nature
One of the main challenges facing economics is to assess the benefits generated by marine ecosystems in a comprehensive way that takes into account their various long-term values. We must overcome this obstacle if we want to have a chance of reaching the infinity of fish.
As human beings, we tend to perceive everything close to us, both in time and space, as important and serious, while we give little or no consideration to it. which is more distant. And this constitutes one of the main barriers preventing us from reaching an infinity of fish. This tendency, which is partly found in the economic concept of discounting, has been a serious obstacle to our ability to live in symbiosis with nature.
Essentially, discounting, which involves relating future benefits to their value today, encourages us to anticipate them and defer the costs. This trend partly explains why we continue to overexploit biodiversity and deplete fish stocks, especially marine ones. It also provides some insight into why we continue to pollute the environment with carbon dioxide and plastic.
When individuals, communities and societies have come to calculate real values, we will be able to develop the guiding principles necessary for a way of life that respects nature. This would motivate us to:
- effectively manage fish stocks;
- address the drivers of overfishing;
- remove or redirect fisheries subsidies deemed harmful;
- recover and restore depleted fish stocks;
- prevent oil spills and marine pollution from plastics;
- eliminate illegal and illegal trade in fish catches;
- close deep sea fishing (areas below beyond the limits of national competences) ;
- treating climate change as the crisis it represents.
As a last resort, we must abandon harmful policies that encourage negative human-perpetrated actions on nature, such as the allocation of more than 80% of global fishing subsidies to large-scale industrial fleets, to the detriment of small coastal fishers, including traditional and subsistence fishing.
Good things come from the ocean, and others, more damaging, end up there.
People take what they want or need from the ocean, and these goods are integrated into our economic, cultural and social systems. In return, we generate a lot of waste, including, among other negative effects, greenhouse gases which are absorbed by the oceans and which contribute to the increase in the surface temperature of the waters, their level and their acidity. .
One thing is certain, we must take the benefits of the ocean more wisely and within the limits imposed by nature, while reducing the pollution that reaches it to the bare minimum. We must also ensure that what we remove from the ocean is used to meet the needs of as many people as possible, including the most vulnerable among us.
To reach the infinity of fish requires an interdisciplinary approach, based on partnerships that allow scientists, indigenous communities, governments, businesses, NGOs and civil society to create solutions together.
The ocean is huge: it covers 70% of the Earth's surface. But that's no reason not to protect him. We have the intelligence and the empathy to collectively guarantee the infinity of fish for future generations. You just have to arrive at precise values and measurements.
Rashid Sumaila, Director and Professor, Fisheries Economics Research Unit, University of British Columbia< /p>
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.