Are we pillaging our seas?

Our skippers have one considerable worry these days. We are over exhausting the assets of the ocean and there is a serious danger of total elimination for many different kinds of fish.

Take, as an example, fishing for herring. In the 1950’s oceanographers predicted the amassing of winter herring at somewhere between fourteen and eighteen million tons. Today it is almost abolished and winter-herring fisheries are entirely restricted. Some voice the conclusion that the only way to preserve and save winter herring is to ban fishing for them altogether. And the cod stock in the Barents Sea, the groundwork for Lofoten fishing activities, is in crisis too. Though some refer to present-day catches as ‘good,’ oceanographers have termed the stock ‘desperately low.’

What about the possibility of various nations coming to some arrangement on average quotas so as to conserve stocks of fish? That seems really impossible to achieve. One issue is the reaching of agreement on how much each shall be permitted to catch. Even if they agreed on that, the quotas would be too great. Everyone is too greedy. A noteworthy example of greed and excess is what occurred with whaling in Antarctica. Some decades ago tens of thousands of whales were captured down there each year. Today the whale is almost extinct in that area. And all that despite numerous conferences, lots of agreements and dozens of quotas! They just talked and no action was taken.

Economic considerations further confuse the issue. Fishing vessels with their equipment are pricey. Such investments must produce interest and concern. When accumulations of fish become reduced, bigger attempts are made to catch them. In addition, other nations are expanding their fishing fleets at a fiery, explosive rate. They, too, want to take a piece of the riches off our Norwegian coast. You can see that setting limits on catches is not an easy task. Fishing in Arctic waters not only helps mankind but is a vigorous and exciting activity.

Exhausted fish supplies do not stem from any inability of ocean life to reproduce sufficiently. The cause of this problem is the same as that resulting in so many others that burden mankind—human greed.

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