The more we fish, the smaller they get

Janet Babin Aug 27, 2008
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The more we fish, the smaller they get

Janet Babin Aug 27, 2008
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Stacey Vanek-Smith: The national snow and data center reports arctic sea ice has melted to the second-lowest level on record — roughly 40 percent less than its average. Global warming is being blamed. Some people are profiting from the melt, including fishing operations.

Fish stocks in many parts of the ocean have hit historic lows. And a new study finds over-fishing actually changes a fish’s biology. And not in a good way — turns out they’re getting smaller. And that makes fisheries even more vulnerable. From the Innovations Desk at North Carolina Pubic Radio, Janet Babin reports.


Janet Babin: The study looked at the cod fishery in the Baltic Sea. Author Dr. Karin Limburg at the State University of New York Syracuse says the region is so depleted that the fish there have become smaller:

Karin Limburg: We are actually changing the genetics, we are actually causing fish species to evolve.

Limburg says the cod are on the brink of economic extinction. Soon, it won’t be profitable to catch them.

This all sounds familiar to Peter Baker with the Pew Environment Group. He says some fisheries off New England have lost 20 percent of their value over the past decade. Baker says the fish stocks could be wiped out without better management:

Peter Baker: Until we start treating fisheries more like a business, where we figure out what the stocks can handle, we’re just going be a dog chasing its tail as far as rebuilding the stocks.

A new assessment of New England’s cod fishery will be released next week.

I’m Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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