No Catch Transcript

The peak of our industrial fishing returns has come and gone, despite a myriad of innovations. In fact, these very innovations may be driving food insecurity even deeper. As fish stocks decline, new methods of extraction are trained on ever-dwindling fish populations to prop up an unsustainable system, leaving vulnerable communities all over the world in their destructive wake. Ironic, since the communities we are leaving behind may ultimately hold the secrets to regional food security. Can we find a life vest to weather the coming tsunami that of international food crises? Or will we simply trawl our way to the bottom?

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Chapters

  • 02:30 The Cod War
  • 15:54 Industrial High Seas Fishing
  • 21:54 The Wondyrechaun
  • 31:51 The Importance of Small-Scale Fisheries
  • 35:42 Fish are food not friends
  • 39:18 Food Production Through Theft
  • 41:37 "As Always, Climate Gets the Final Word"
  • 45:01 What Can We Do?

(Sorry this machine translated transcript sucks. We'll fix this soon!)


David Torcivia:

[0:00] I'm David Torcivia.

Daniel Forkner:

[0:02] I'm Daniel Forkner.

David Torcivia:

[0:03] And this is Ashes Ashes, a show about systemic issues, cracks in civilization, collapse of the environment - and if we're unlucky, the end of the world.

Daniel Forkner:

[0:13] But if we learn from all of this maybe we can stop that. The world might be broken but it doesn't have to be.

David before we start this episode we had a little homework. Assignment for you over the week. Last week we covered sleep and we mention how light that gets in our bedroom can have an impact on our sleep and potentially lead to depressive symptoms according to one study and you were supposed to measure the light coming into your bedroom at night did you do that Dave.

David Torcivia:

[0:41] I in fact did I brought out to my old trusty light meter it's very fancy high-end digital unit that can my cinematography days, and I crank that sucker up popping a new battery went to my dark room turn it on measured it and I got error.

Daniel Forkner:

[0:59] What do you mean you got it.

David Torcivia:

[1:01] Well my room was fortunately too dark to actually register in the light level so I know it's dark it's less than.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:10] Is it less than that 5 Lumen or V Luxe threshold or whatever it was.

David Torcivia:

[1:15] All I know is that it is definitely less than 6 lakhs cuz that's as low as my in my light meter can read so I think I'm right in the area where I'm doing pretty well in terms of light pollution cell, that's one less thing I have to worry about.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:30] Alright well that's good for you David I got to admit a little bit anti-climatic I was hoping for a little bit more drama so let's get to the episode for today.

David Torcivia:

[1:39] Drama it's not but today's episode definitely is.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:43] David something you mentioned to me as we prepared for the show was it's so interesting how are often talking about topics that are predicting collapse of system, systems that are out of control and that if unchecked will lead to unmitigated disaster.

David Torcivia:

[1:59] That is our bread and butter.

Daniel Forkner:

[2:01] Right but in this episode are bread and butter has already reached the peak.

David Torcivia:

[2:06] Our bread has already been buttered and falling to the floor butter side down.

Daniel Forkner:

[2:11] The great way to think about it although this topic has nothing to do with bread this is a system that has.

David Torcivia:

[2:18] We're already off the cliff Daniel. There was a cliff when we jumped off of it a little while ago and we are in the rapid descent right now the crash of the system and the Crash eventually of everybody who depends upon it. Which brings us to today's opening story a little conflict that almost brought to Nations to war resulted in the crashing of boats into each other sabotage from one Navy to another.

War For Cod [2:43] Over a little animal Beyond assuming God says that the players here Daniel looks let's introduce the contestants to the ring.

Daniel Forkner:

[2:51] Well David in one corner we have the United Kingdom the great Naval power of the world with multiple championships under its belt traveled around the world circumvented the globe to assert its dominance on the world. And in the other Corner we had the IC the small the underdog Iceland.

David Torcivia:

[3:10] And it's 7 ship Coast Guard.

Daniel Forkner:

[3:12] And it's a fledgling population of 100000 people.

David Torcivia:

[3:16] That's right this story takes us into entire might of the British royal Navy versus 7 ship Fleet of Iceland's Coast Guard. And the source of all this conflict like we mentioned is a simple unassuming fish the car. Show me set this up for you and then look at how exactly this teeny tiny Coast Guard of this teeny tiny Nation ended up facing off against the entire night of the UK Navy, and what happened really was the UK at this time was very much in love with God this is very simple fish.

Daniel Forkner:

[3:47] And this is around like the forties and fifties David.

David Torcivia:

[3:50] Right this is when the story starts and Iceland was the major fishing location of this fish ever caught in huge amounts off the coast of Iceland within just a couple miles of the shore, and at first I said was a major exporter of this fish. If you can an effort to cut out the middleman decided to send extended-range fishing fleets all the way out to this tiny island nation in order to enter the cod fishing industry themselves. Of course Iceland at the time was highly dependent on this card trade it was the thing that was throwing the economy into the modern world that change Iceland for a backwards undeveloped nation into the modern highly developed infrastructure nation that it was supposed to be coming.

Daniel Forkner:

[4:29] Yeah they didn't really like the fact that so many British ships are showing up so close to there short to start traveling for this very valuable resource that was really Iceland's most valuable resource is a tiny island nation I didn't have much in terms of Natural Resources this fish was there bread and butter. And I mean this British ships were very close were talking about 3 miles from the shore can you imagine David if a bunch of foreign fishing boat started showing up right off the Gulf Coast and fishing all the United States shrimp.

David Torcivia:

[4:58] It's easy to see why I sent was upset with what was happening, any idea that the borders of a Nation extends out into the ocean was one that had long presidents but the question of exactly how far out these fishing rights extended was up for the day, and so at the time I send decided to affirm the distance of 4 miles anything within four miles of their Coast was Iceland's exclusive fishing territory.

Daniel Forkner:

[5:21] Great Britain of course didn't like that and so they say but you know what fine we're not going to buy your card anymore. Of course that worked out fine for Iceland because there were other countries including the USSR who had a market for their fish and, wanted to buy them so this actually backfired on Great Britain a little bit and they reverse that decision just a few years later in 1956.

David Torcivia:

[5:44] Right is actually ended up developing Iceland export economy because the slack, in the export of God was adopted by the Soviet Union and then later the United States as well as many other European nations, so where UK thought they were trying to impact this industry negatively ended up fostering it and growing even more increasing the demand for cotton around the world of course that ended up just exacerbating the problem of exactly where the borders for this fishing needed to be.

Daniel Forkner:

[6:11] But shortly after the small victory that Iceland have what they decided to expand that just a few years later in 1958 they said you know what four miles isn't good enough you cannot come within 12 miles of our Coast those cars belong to.

David Torcivia:

[6:25] And this was an unprecedented move. 12 nautical miles extended into the deep water territory that really no Nation considered up until this point part of their fishing orders. But because of the fear of the UK's impact on the cob populations from the overfishing that was occurring by both the Icelandic and the British leads Iceland push this Border in the Coast Guard came to enforce it, often times with violent means eventually I was able to force the UK to respect the new 12 nautical mile limit with threat, I'm leaving NATO something that was extremely dramatic in like basically the nuclear bomb possibility of diplomatic negotiations here because Iceland as its stopover point is an important Airbase for NATO Nations United States people crossing the Atlantic Ocean so this threat basically forced UK to concede to the 12 nautical mile limits and move their trailers even farther off the coast.

Daniel Forkner:

[7:21] And then fast forward David another decade in 1972 when ice and said you know what 12 miles isn't enough we are extending our exclusive right for these Waters 250 miles from Arco. And that's when things started getting a little bit more tents Iceland had developed this technology that allowed it to go up to British ships that were trawling in their Waters and, essentially cut their line once the Icelandic boats cut the British net from their ships the British had no choice but to just go on home because it was nothing they could do.

David Torcivia:

[7:53] Once again the Royal Navy in the Icelandic Coast Guard came to blows over this conflict with ships ramming each other Icelandic Coast Guard ship surrounding trawlers trawlers trying to Ram the Coast Guard and amazingly nobody suffered serious injuries no ships were sunk but a lot of damage was done to property and especially to those Nets at the Icelandic Coast Guard was cutting.

Daniel Forkner:

[8:13] I think this gave Iceland a lot of confidence that it was standing up to the British royal Navy which is why just a few years later once again this is 1975 now they said you know what, 50 miles is not is not good enough and they extended their range to 200 miles and that's when they started really ramming into each other, in the first 6 months I think in which they extended that range to 200 miles ships ran into each other at least 35 times trying to assert their right to fish in these Waters.

David Torcivia:

[8:44] Once again Iceland eventually was forced to pull out that nuclear diplomatic option and threatened to leave NATO for the UK finally conceded to this 200 nautical mile limit for iPhone Sovereign fishing territory, and it's limited something that's actually been applied around the world today because of these events, and it's concluded the Cod War but unfortunately for the card they were the real victims in the end.

Daniel Forkner:

[9:07] That's right, it is now an endangered species and these wars really did have a big impact on the way the International Community, viewed the rights of Nations to fish in their own Waters and a 200-mile exclusive economic zone in which every nation is allowed to assert their right to fish in their own Waters and keep others out. Of course if it gets complicated because a lot of countries they do deals with each other they allow certain people into their Waters and and others out of this had profound impact on the way we regulate International Water. And if active at these types of disputes like the ones we saw between Iceland and Great Britain, these types of things have punctuated the history of industrial fishing following World War II as many countries around the world sock greater access to waters for their food security. Many new technologies came out of the war things like navigation which led to GPS, radar and sonar technology as well as engine powered trollers with large-capacity all these things allowed Nations to extend the range of their fishing activities, other technologies that led to specialized vessels also made long-distance fishing possible and wasted it never was before, these are things like reefers and refrigerated cargo ships that fishing boats transfer their catches to so they can stay out longer and then we also have bunkers now they're basically just huge tankers of fuel to sit out on the ocean allowing these fishing boats to come and refuel and stay out there even longer.

David Torcivia:

[10:36] I really want to emphasize how important Refrigeration technology has been in the increase of the fishing industry. Especially Billy to flash freeze fish directly on the fishing vessels or have these Refrigeration ships right nearby has totally transformed how far vessels are willing to travel in order to gather these caches before you were forced basically to fish very close to the shore soon enough time to get back bring your fish on to the doc and then distributor somewhere that could quickly flash freeze it and take care of things to see all of the taste and make sure the fish was fresh whenever it arrived or needed to but the ability to do this directly on the vessels meant that ships weren't Bound by the time it took to get back to Port, give me love all of the schools wherever they needed for the cats was best in two places where fish had previously been using a sanctuaries from these specimens nuts.

Daniel Forkner:

[11:24] And as you would expect all of these changes have resulted in increased Global catches of fish around the world is countries fish more and more of the world's oceans today 90% of our oceans are fished and much of those doing the fishing are a Long Way From Home, Taiwan South Korea and Spain for example they fish more than 3,000 km from home but for all the distance that they travel, industrial vessels they catch 2/3 less than what they were in the early 1950s and since the 1990s catch per area of ocean fish has fallen by 22%.

David Torcivia:

[12:02] Ultimately what these Trends suggest is that the climbing fish stocks in our oceans have been covered up by the increasing size of our Halls which increased only because we were fishing more of the ocean but now that are fishing fleets a covered up pretty much the entire Globe we have no way to expand is declining catches.

Daniel Forkner:

[12:21] The UN warns that a third of the oceans fish stocks are being depleted faster than they can recover and this threatens developing regions the most we're over 3 billion people rely on fish for a significant portion of their nutrition.

David Torcivia:

[12:36] In the tropics where fish is exceptionally important for the health of local populations and overall food security fish stocks are projected to climb by an additional 30% in the next three decades.

Daniel Forkner:

[12:47] In the waters around Cypress overfishing has caused fish stocks to decline so much that dolphins in the area are now breaking into the Nets of fishing boats to find their meals costing Fisher a lot of money and a lot of Heartache.

David Torcivia:

[13:02] In the Philippines and in this one's what really gets to me a are the average daily catch a fish has dropped from 45 lb in 1974 and 1/2 pounds in 2000, many locals are compensating in his loss of cash by using homemade explosives, yeah that's right explosive to kill fish that they can Harvest if you their family to make a few dollars. You here for just a second.

Daniel Forkner:

[13:25] Right way we've all seen the cartoons where someone throws a stick of dynamite into the ocean for a river and after it explodes like a whole bunch of fish just float to the surface, well this is exactly what's going on right now in the Philippines by a lot of local people who will they depend on this fish for their livelihoods and for their meal.

David Torcivia:

[13:42] The loss of the local ecosystems has been so dramatic that it's pushed these people who depend on these fishing stocks in order to survive to be their families in order to fund their life to throw bombs into the ocean blow up the ocean which of course kills all the fish at the moment but also destroys the coral the other fundamental parts of these ecosystems depleting the stocks even more.

Daniel Forkner:

[14:04] Much much faster because.

David Torcivia:

[14:05] Candidum bomb.

Daniel Forkner:

[14:07] Right in the coral that's where a lot of fish are raised it's where they give birth and without that natural habitat you're basically destroying the future sustainability of these fish.

David Torcivia:

[14:17] Right so I mean at this point there is basically no hope for these fishing areas in this is a huge amount of people that depend on these fish docks for their survival and those dogs are not going to be with us for much longer.

Daniel Forkner:

[14:29] And David I want to start real quick because it's easy to look at the situation like that and vilify the people who are directly throwing bombs into Waters destroying ecosystems right I mean that's an easy thing to do like wow how stupid can you be destroying the food that you depend on for the sake of making an extra dollar but it's not that simple I mean we're going to talk about later in the show about the importance of small-scale Fisheries and the importance of local economies and sourcing food for home Nations that has largely gone under-reported and some of these people are driven to these desperate types of behaviors because our industrial fishing economies have destroyed the stocks that they depend on, so while it's very easy to vilify a local person for being short sighted we have to see the larger picture in that, their entire livelihood and some cases has been stripped away from them, for a much more agree to short-term economic incentive which is usually foreign companies coming into a developing country that is easy to bully or easy to pay off for this access, stripping the ocean of all the fish so that it can be sold on International markets or processed for something completely different which is another thing we'll talk about and then leave because they they made their economic return and they don't have to live there.

David Torcivia:

[15:50] And they can freeze those fish right on that ship.

Daniel Forkner:

[15:53] Exactly. So you know I did why don't we talk about when we shift gears here and talk about some of these industrial practices we were talking about the technologies that enabled ship to travel further than ever and how were fishing more of the Ocean than we ever have before,

Industrial High Seas Fishing [16:07] let's focus on one aspect of that that has enabled this which is the subsidies that governments are now paying their long-distance fleets or something that is ultimately not as profitable as it seem.

David Torcivia:

[16:21] That's right some of the biggest impacts of these Hi-C operations are coming directly from a handful of countries. China Taiwan Japan Indonesia Spain in South Korea these countries account for 80% of all fishing activity on the high seas and big subsidies for the industry within these countries make it possible for these long-distance bleeds to make money.

Daniel Forkner:

[16:44] The high seas of course is just Waters that are very far from domestic ports and a recent study use satellites and various databases on ship activity to track the efforts of over 3,500 ships on the high seas in 2016 in real time they could then estimate the value of their catches and the various cost that they incur to calculate the amount of profit that these ships were making what they discovered is that over half of all Pisces fishing operations are unprofitable without some type of subsidy. For example in 2014 Taiwan made between 6 million and 180 million dollars in profit depending on.

David Torcivia:

[17:23] That's a pretty big range right there just got to say.

Daniel Forkner:

[17:26] Well David it depends on how you calculate cost for example are we assuming that the country is paying their labor barely or are they using some of that slave labor that we talked about in our two-part series on slavery, but either way they're in the green right they're making a positive profit.

David Torcivia:

[17:42] Getting their bread butter.

Daniel Forkner:

[17:44] But if you were to take away the subsidies that their government paid the same Fleet would have lost between 237 and 65 million dollars instead, so definitely in the red. Globally 4.2 billion dollars in subsidies are paid out every year and without this the industry would be losing up to 364 million dollars every year. The biggest loss would occur for Chinese Fleet add up to negative four hundred million dollars.

David Torcivia:

[18:13] Keep in mind and this is important, these are not the only thing making these businesses profitable low-wage and slave labor play crucial roles in the ability for these fishing industries to make money not just out at Sea on these boats but also in the processing plants on land that use VI would deliver that help get the seafood to Market in 1996 we hit peak fishing.

Daniel Forkner:

[18:36] Peak fishing David.

David Torcivia:

[18:37] Peak fishing wheel River peak oil you've heard.

Daniel Forkner:

[18:40] Alright this is where our bar bread and butter fell on the floor.

David Torcivia:

[18:43] This is where the bread and butter fell on the floor because at this point stocks of new fish no longer kept up with the rate at which we pull fish out of the ocean.

Daniel Forkner:

[18:52] 5 second rule.

David Torcivia:

[18:53] And we've had a decline in global fish stocks ever since that day, 1996 industrial fishing cart 100 million tons but that figure has declined almost 20% since then and this is despite increases in technology better fishing practices and more knowledge about where fish stocks are. This means that fishing has become more and more expensive when should have to travel further they had to buy more fuel spend more time at at Sea use this more advanced technology and have bigger and better ships just to make the same cat. Let me see make less money. In a long-term rational world that will cause a leveling off a fishing to a more sustainable level but these current subsidies distort that completely and gets fishing operations the incentive to just. Keep going deep-sea trolling for example of one of those practices were not only are we going to wreck the fish stocks are going to destroy entire ecosystems in the process 64% of all deep-sea bottom trawling worldwide is unprofitable without the subsidies and even with subsidies over 30% should be unprofitable suggesting an order for the owner of a trolling business to make money the government has to pay for his cost and then he still has to employ slave labor just to make it work.

Daniel Forkner:

[20:02] David I think this example points out so clearly something that we've talked about a lot on this show whether that was impacts of growth or we talk about population growth or was that was our episode on geoengineering climate ex machina we're so often we are faced with these great challenges and we think that technology is going to solve it, But ultimately if the system is broken there's nothing you can do to fix that without changing fundamentally the way the system works, I mean if you look at the situation what has technology really truly given us, it allowed us to put more boats on the ocean it's allowed us to keep those boats out longer and catch more fish than ever before, and yet today we're catching much less fish for all our effort we're spending more on fuel we're having to go out further at the stay out longer and the result is that these fishing stocks that we depend on are collapsing we're catching less fish by a significant amount. For the amount of effort we spend that we were in 1950 remember what kind of technology did we have in 1950 we didn't even have container ships at that point.

[21:08] We've come so far in our Innovations and the application of new technologies to this problem to catch more fish so that we can fuel more development but ultimately all we're doing is were speeding up the rate at which were extracting and ultimately depleting something that we will not get back in a reasonable time frame technology can help us extract the fish but it will not allow us, to create more once they're gone, it's not a technology problem it is a consumption problem it is a waste problem and it is a short-term improperly incentivized problem.

[21:43] And as we'll see the rise of industrial fishing following World War II and the bigger Halls of fish really owes less to technological innovation than simple Geographic expansion.

David Torcivia:

[21:55] Maybe we should look at one of these destructive Technologies Daniel and then we say technology so often we think modern-day it's a new computer it's a new radar at some fancy fish finder

The Wondyrechaun [22:04] for the notion of Technologies in fishing is something that's very old ancient even and one of these most destructive Technologies has a long history of destroying the ecosystems that it depends on for its cat.

Daniel Forkner:

[22:15] And that of course is the trawler these are ships David that plow the ground beneath the ocean waters, they drag nuts along the sea bed so they can scoop up any fish trying to escape those lures at the top, and in the process picking up the Flora on the seabed destroying coral and other fish habitats and so it's a very destructive practice and we continue to rely on these types of boats all over the world but as you mention David it's not new, it might surprise many of you to know that trollers go as far back as the 14th century when they were introduced in from the very beginning people have resisted their implementation, and this is actually pretty fascinating to me because as soon as trawling was introduced, complaints were sent to the king of England requesting a ban on the practice this is what they wrote in the year 1376.

David Torcivia:

[23:12] The commons petitioned the king complaining that we're in creeks and havens of the sea there used to be plenty of fishing to the prophet of the Kingdom certain fisherman for several years past have subtly contrived an instrument called wondyrechaun, and that great and long iron of the wondyrechaun runs so heavily and hardly over the ground when fishing at a destroys the flower of the land below water there and also the speed of oysters mussels and other fish upon which the great fish are accustomed to be fed and nervous. By which instrument in many places the fisherman takes its quantity of small fish that they do not know what to do with them and if they feed and fat their bigs with them to the great damage at the commons of the realm and the destruction the fisheries and they pray for remedy.

Daniel Forkner:

[23:57] That is so fascinating to me because the complaints made into 1300 against this destructive fishing is the same that we have today even the issue of using fish for things outside human consumption which is something we'll talk about in a little bit people had a very good sense for the need to be sustainable, the need to catch fish in a responsible way so that you don't destroy the environment's ability to keep producing those fish while into the future people really concerned about that.

David Torcivia:

[24:27] Yeah I know I love this passage so much because it really gets across a lot of points in one of the things that happened so much with these narratives about our destruction the environment is that these are things that we only just realized are happening oh whoops we didn't realize that carbon dioxide pumping out what heat up the earth oh whoops we didn't realize that ripping up the ecosystem to the fish and overfishing the oceans they reside in would lead to a decline in the total population of fish we just didn't know we didn't have the math we weren't thinking for an outboard but repeatedly we see these just aren't the case, in 1800 we knew that adding carbon dioxide to the air would eventually lead to a Hothouse Earth in the 1300s people were writing about the potential of overfishing.

[25:08] I'm destroying the ecosystems that these fish reside in meaning of Crash of the Fisheries themselves and the reason that we forgot these things, it's because we moved away from these ideas of in this case especially the commons the fact that together we need to protect this thing because we all depend upon it and the tragedy of the commons once again is a fallacy that's been created in order to justify the privatization of is publicly on things we don't have an idea that we all collectively own the Bounty of the sea or the forest or the minerals Bonitas maybe idea is that somebody can explain it. Because I have the right to exploit this property but there is Iceland or the Fisher made in Philippines because it's a piece of property that can there be I'd be exploited by the very nature of being owned, that's the reason to have property in the first place. But of course we all share the ocean we share these Fisheries collectively we should the air we breathe we sure the rivers that run through our land. And when we allow one group of people to consider this property there's and explode and destroy all we are all the ones that are impacted by this process we all lose out on it, that's exactly what's happening with our fish stocks today we've over pushed what sustainable with these products in it as these.

[26:21] Population decline they're going to climb faster and faster because we're driven to catch the same amount of fish keep catching as much fish as possible Nordic TVs markets in order to keep the prices of dish down. But that just means we impact these stocks that are remaining even more and more as time goes on and like these medieval peasants new 700 years ago that is not a sustainable option and we need to do something about it if we all want to continue enjoying this bounty. Into the coming decades.

Daniel Forkner:

[26:50] Yeah David that's one Theory but I think the real reason we forgot is because we stopped calling these boats wondyrechaun.

David Torcivia:

[26:57] We also have no idea for saying that properly so if anyone out there speaks Old English hit us up with the proper pronunciation you.

Daniel Forkner:

[27:06] Right but David these struggles over these wondyrechaun this practice of unsustainable fishing it continues. In 1499 the Belgian Flemish region May trawling illegal because it quote rooted up and swept away the seaweed which serve the shelter the fish in quote. Which I just think is incredible because they didn't even have scuba gear back then but they still understood the importance of a balanced ecosystem in the 1500 France made trawling a capital crime and England actually executed to fisherman for using trolling gear, the destructive nature of the practice was obvious from the start. Because of the limitations of Technology at the time traveling was limited to shallow coastal regions. It was in the 19th century that the introduction of steam power marked what has become known as the second revolution of trolling, allowing ships to fish more had a bigger capacity but the most significant shift occurred in the mid-1900s when trawlers made their way into the deep sea for the very first time, this is the third revolution in drawing and why the destructive nature of this practice was immediately obvious on shallow Waters, we do not understand the full consequences of deep sea trawling except that it's much much worse and that's because deep sea ecosystems are very different from shallow ones.

David Torcivia:

[28:27] I love that we make it out at some point that trolling is so damaging that the people who are doing this need to be executed. And then fast forward and we finally have the technology to make trolling as like destructive or as efficient know which word you want to use as possible. Animal Control the world draw the world baby.

Daniel Forkner:

[28:47] Will know it sounds more like the trolling industry the industrial fishing industry, they're like what are we going to do all these people on the coast they don't like it when we come up and steal all their fish and destroy the environment, and then some very clever person said let's just go really deep into the ocean where no one will see us and then everyone celebrated that great innovation. But it really is much worse because he's deep sea ecosystems they're dominated by species which live much longer than their shallow counterparts they produce fewer offspring and in general they are much more fragile towards destruction so as a result this trawling business goes through this continual cycle of boom and bust where they rapidly deplete the population of a fish species and then they have to move on to another one that they identified as potentially marketable, newly targeted species usually collapse after a decade and in the process these nuts that are dragged along the seafloor well they destroy Coral sponges sea stars natural habitats for fish to grow and develop all kinds of important things than once these ecosystems are destroyed which again is Charlie's do very quickly they won't be able to recover for centuries in some cases, so what are the long-term consequences of this practice on the ability of the ocean to provide the fish we need to eat. We don't fully know but if we allow this type of thing to continue by the time we figure it out it'll probably be too late.

David Torcivia:

[30:12] What's interesting about traveling to is that it actually is not very efficient, I mean it didn't sufficiently way that it catches everything but that also means that huge part of the catch is useless. Food and agriculture organization reports that 35% of global catches are wasted in about a quarter of these losses are by catch of his cards which are mostly from trawlers. And this means they just take all this fish and chips a bunch of the special stuff we don't want and we're just going to go back into the ocean dead because they're too small or they're not tasty species or whatever but at this point the impact on those fish stocks is done even or not even harvesting these products, what's on the back of the ocean but the damage is done the populations are decimated.

Daniel Forkner:

[30:54] Yes I could someone broke into your house burned your whole house down so that they could get to your underground freezer open up the freezer open all the contents ported out on the ground instead of the I don't like this food and then walked away.

David Torcivia:

[31:07] But on a global scale at the really dangerous part of the doubt this is that a lot of these fish that we may not be interested in catching and we may not want to consume it does have value for these ecosystems and we're ripping the rug out beneath the fish that depend on these other populations which of course impacts fishing stocks even further in addition to all the catching that we're doing and in addition to the ocean acidification ocean warming and the ocean deoxygenation which were also contributing to through our anthropogenic processes the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which is absorbed into the water which we talked about in her episode 6 dead in the water. And we created a very toxic deadly desert, it's no wonder that these populations are crashing and it's only a matter of how much time we have until the oceans are completely barren.

Daniel Forkner:

[31:52] David there's something you said that I want to,

The Importance Of Small-Scale Fisheries [31:54] expand on when you mentioned that a lot of the fish that we throwback dead ants the waters because we don't value them but they are still valuable for many ecosystems. So we can take this even further because in addition to all the fish that we waste throwing back we also waste a ton of fish through the process of turning it into fish meal a lot of these trailers that go after what we consider to be quote-unquote trash fish. So we thought we just don't value them and then we grind them up into powder which we then use for various things. For the example I want to talk about really questions this idea that certain Fish can be trash so let's look at the value of small-scale Fisheries for a moment okay. Because the burden of declining fish stocks around the world that were talking about it falls first and foremost on poor and vulnerable communities around the world including those who increasingly fall into patterns of forced migration, people who do not have very many economic prospects in a legitimate sense but can still rely on these local economies of catching fish preparing fish for their livelihood.

[32:58] But there's a larger significance to small-scale fishing communities than might be expected it turns out to be a great irony when we think of the players that are providing the most fish and bolstering general food security around the world industrial scale operations are probably what comes to mind first for most people are we going to feed all these people after all if not with large factories, on the water just sucking up huge volumes of fish with economies of scale on their side but new data suggest something different. Researchers at The Institute for the oceans and Fisheries in the collaboration with the sea around us and the University of British Columbia they released data in February of this year. That they discovered by reconstructing the fish catches in Southeast Asia between 1950 and 2013. Specifically for Cambodia Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam and they found that during this period 282 million tons of fish were caught. Which is almost twice what was officially reported and it up until 2001 small-scale fisherman produced more fish for human consumption than the industrial site. Small-scale fishing was 100% of the source for human consumption of fish in 1950 and by 2013 it was more than 1/3.

David Torcivia:

[34:15] It's a lot of nerds it once more Daniel you're boring or listeners so let me try and put it in perspective. Today we discussed earlier the subsidies that governments pay industrial operation. And it's because governments perceive is a large-scale operations as being crucial to food security the ships are bigger than Hall in larger catches they are. Efficient but this creates of course as always on the show and ironic situation. Governments are instant devising commercial ships to run unprofitable businesses at the expense of local Fisheries, which are contributing a much larger share to National put security minutes actually being reported and ultimately these ships do not provide more fish for human consumption. This reality is made even more depressing when you take into account the fact that a large portion of these industrial catches, are diverted to something called fish meal which is used for pet food livestock and fertilizer not even for human consumption and yes these are Buena consumable fish like sardines. Because of the industrialization of fishing local communities in Thailand are catching over 8 times fewer fish than they were in 1980. Since 2000 fisherman in Vietnam have experienced a 40% decline in fish stocks. So government should actually be protecting and promoting small-scale Fisheries for their own benefit but instead because of these at gross profit incentives in the way that we keep track and count these fish catches their undermining a critical component of HP stocks future sustainability.

Fish Are Food Not Friends

Daniel Forkner:

[35:42] Yeah the process of turning fish into fish meal is one that really blew my mind and honestly it's a perfect encapsulation of everything that is wrong with our economy. Before we go into this fish meal topic I think we need to emphasize once again something that we talked about a lot on the show which is we have, a situation here where global population is rising and Rising faster than population itself is the demand for energy, the resource intensive diets the demand for meat is rising all over the world and this is a challenge because the industrial nature providing that meat, and other commodified agricultural products results and pollution waste topsoil loss to for station and all these other bad things the more we demand of our industrial agriculture, the more meat we demand The more stress that we end up placing on the ability for the earth to both absorb the outputs of these systems. And to provide the resources we need to produce and deliver this food the dominant answer to this great challenge has been let's just.

[36:49] Food with aquaculture, David in episode 20 irresistible we discussed the rising risk of infectious disease and one of the consequences of animal farming is an environment for pathogens can quickly more easily develop resistance to antimicrobial treatment. If the pathogens themselves don't make it into human populations their genes which in code for resistance can make it into other pathogens that then become a human risk. But many people involved in solving these threats don't necessarily emphasize the need to scale back meat production overall the dominant suggestion seems to be that we need better medicine better practices better technology so that we can produce more and more and more to provide for our growing population. But as you would not be surprised the simply won't cut it. The answer to this problem ultimately will be found in our consumption patterns and its attendant waste which of course must come down.

David Torcivia:

[37:47] What's a we find a way to cut the waste environmental impact of our industrial fishing that would be a huge achievement, but the same time we increase our industrial Fleet by a huge amount or we increase the technology to make her catches more efficient and we are in a much worse position anyway. If your underlying activities are extractive industry. Technological innovation in many ways is actually worse because it allows us to build an even larger House of Cards which in the end is all the more painful.

[38:20] Example of the problem it is so we have this growing demand from meet with all this that we simply won't accept that we should come back and eat with me. Well some very clever business people figured out a cheap solution, and this is the product called fish meal so what we're going to do we're going to go around the world that's a whole bunch of the cheapest fish we can find grind them up in the powder and feed that to our chickens are pigs, are salmon or tilapia carp and all sorts of animals living on all manner of phones if you buy chicken pork or salmon from your Supermarket today. Most likely that animal was fed this fish meal. Summer between a quarter and a third of all wild seafood and over 60% of all of Ben fish caught is used to produce fish meal. 70% of that goes towards feeding fish farms and then pigs and chicken and the other issues we've already touched on this is staying ability or ocean extraction this industry has profound impact on local people around the world.

Food Production Through Theft

Daniel Forkner:

[39:18] Senegal is a country on the coast of West Africa and here over a million people take part in the local fish economy women and men alike provide for their families by catching sardines drying and smoking them and it is from this economy that many people not just in Senegal but across western Africa get their main source of protein this is how they feed their families, but the rising demand of meat around the world has prompted foreign investors to build fish meal factories on synagogues coast and the impact has been disastrous for local people foreigners have built more than a dozen fishmeal plants in Senegal they harvest the sardines that people need to survive and then they grind them up, for every ton of fish process only 20% ends up in the final product, and these factories they sell this product to factory farmers in America and elsewhere who buy it to raise their own fish in animals for human consumption, this extraction has completed more than 50% of the biomass in the waters off the coast of Senegal as a result locals have to pay higher prices for their fish every single day and are now spending over half there in Tire in come on.

[40:24] So does that sound like we are solving the meat consumption problem or are we just stealing food from one group of people, and in such a way that eventually there won't be enough for anyone. David I just want to point out really quick that you know I got a finance degree that's what I studied in University. And the way we were taught to evaluate Investments it was all along Financial lines you know what is what is this investment Roi what does it pay back. Does it have a negative or a positive Net Present Value. And you know I can't speak for all the investment bankers out there because I never worked in a bank but, in all of my education never once were we ever prompted to ask a single time if the Investments we were evaluating, might impact people in some way outside of the financial returns they can generate, not once in this is a great example of this happening right now where foreign investors they come they look at the West African coast of they say wow if we can build this plant here for x amount of dollars and get this much back in return over five years we make a profit it's good to do. Without even caring that in the process they destroy local markets they destroy the ability for this fish to survive and they starve Millions people.

David Torcivia:

[41:38] But as we loaded to earlier in this episode the problems facing our fish dogs aren't solely because of direct fishing.

As Always, Climate Gets The Final Word [41:46] Beer larger issues at play here things that were directly responsible for once again any other things like climate change ocean warming deoxygenation ocean acidification over 3 billion people rely on Seafood for significant portion of their nutrition and in some tropical regions people rely on it up to 70% of the protein, not only will this depletion of fish stocks from overfishing harm these people just reporting Italy what climate change is also going to impact the ability for people access the food that they rely on.

[42:15] As we talked about in our episode 6 dead in the water this triple threat of human impact on our oceans devastates ocean ecosystems wreaths, kelp forest and many other areas where fish reside it takes out the bottom of mini these food chains and that means that this dogs are plummeting from these purely natural processes even without our direct human intervention I'll be on that the changes in temperature should water be altered current that means that fish are driven away from these warm tropical waters where most of these nations most dependent on these fish for sources of protein are located this means it even if Global fish stock levels remain more or less on change, did the people most dependent on those fish dogs will have no way to access them because these local Fisheries off is tropical Nations will have been devastated the fish are forced to move somewhere else because of the rising temperatures of the waters as a ecosystem that they live in are devastated by acidification deoxygenation and the general rise and temperature.

[43:13] These people will have nowhere to turn will be no more source of food and will be Devastation in their nutrition consequently.

Daniel Forkner:

[43:20] And the closest off to get back to that question of how to solve system issues ultimately we again when it besides that technology is not going to be the answer many people look at this problem does overfishing and think that.

[43:41] Today over 53% of the fish that people eat is raised in some kind of fish farm. There's a great irony here in trying to solve the problem of declining ocean fish Stocks by using fish stocks in the ocean to feed fish that we raised somewhere else it's it's not something that adds up into a long-term solution, at the same time a lot of these aquaculture systems provide a lot of environmental risk. Just last year in August a fish farm on the Pacific coast near Washington State broke down. It held over 300,000 Atlantic salmon which were then released into the Pacific.

[44:23] Ultimately harm natural fish. But I'll keep eating them because of their genetic advantage that we've given them, so we have to be very careful when we think about the solution to these type of things we need to ask are we looking for something that will allow us to continue to increase the activity that we're doing, or it's a solution we're trying to figure out a way to scale back our consumption scale back our waste and pollution and environmental impact. Because asking that question will take us a long way and understanding if something is a true solution or merely a technofix. Driving us further down the path of destruction.

What Can We Do?

David Torcivia:

[45:01] Which brings us once more to the end of an episode and a final question of what can we do, but unfortunately for most of us the direct impact on this crisis are well outside of our reach is little we can do to petition form governments in order to stop their catches. And our ability to individually choose our diet to avoid these highly fish products especially species that are overfished at rates much higher than others things like tuna or example or impact as an individual is highly Limited. So in lieu of going out in fighting these vessels and sinking the trawlers running them like they assigned a coast guard taught us cutting their draw lines I think for most of us the limits of our affecting his can be educating others and making ourselves globally and culturally aware of the impact of our actions.

Daniel Forkner:

[45:47] Eat less food that was fed with fish meal eat less Seafood and Meat and focus a little bit more on your bread and butter.

David Torcivia:

[45:55] What is always Daniel that's a lot to think about if you want to learn more about in these topics or read a full transcript of this episode you can do all of that on our website at ashes ashes. Org.

Daniel Forkner:

[46:07] A lot of time and research goes into making these shows possible and we will never use advertising to support this podcast so if you like us and would like us to keep going you our listener can support us by giving us a review and sharing this with a friend also we have an email address it's contact at ashes ashes. O RG we encourage you to send us your thoughts positive or negative will read them and we appreciate them.

David Torcivia:

[46:32] You can also find us on your favorite social media Network app ashes ashes cast this is ashes ashes bye bye.

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