Human beings love things that do not change – things that can be relied upon from one day to the next, one year to the next and generation after generation. Things like enough sunlight, clean water; crops that grew and fish to catch were thought of as always being there.Our global population has increased to an estimated 6.5 billion individuals. We are using up more and more of the planet’s non-renewable resources like minerals, oil and gas with concomitant pollution and shortage problems.Other natural resources we first believed to be infinite, then renewable and then sustainable, like fish populations, are now being pushed to their limits by recreational and commercial fishing, by-catch and global climate change.The only thing that does not seem to be changing is how we impact these resources and the changes to our behaviors that we are willing (or not willing) to make. When it comes to fishing our continuing insistence on maintaining high levels of harvest in the face of these wide spread changes has and will only result in further declines in fish populations.Taking the majority of our fish protein from wild stocks, in light of advances in modern mariculture made over the last decades of the twentieth century, does not make much sense. By-catch in the shrimp fishery applies continuing pressure on fry and juvenile fish including damage to the natural ocean bottom that the nets are drawn over. Recreational anglers in their millions, whether they go for billfish or tuna, or are carried out to an artificial reef for snapper or to troll the beach for Spanish and kings, add their own weight to the problem of angling pressure on fish stocks.Finger pointing and talking about economy impacts on coastal economies caused by one side or the other will not matter much if there aren’t fish left to catch. Only applying logic and reason, instead of vitriolic rhetoric, will help provide a solution.With red snapper in particular the solution has yet to be worked out. Whatever the solution it will take many years to put the red snapper stock back into a healthy state. Damage to fishery stocks is not the other guy’s problem (whomever he is) it is everyone’s problem.
Think Global – Act Local!