Living in New England, with the major fishing ports of Gloucester and New Bedford, one is exposed to the state of the fisheries. Over the course of the last half century, the major stocks have depleted significantly. For the Grand Banks off Canada, the cod stock, one of the most important in fishing history, is so severely depleted that there is a complete ban on cod fishing there.

Globally, similar situations exist. A challenge is simply the huge population explosion in the world. People need protein, and fish are a good source, if the resource exists. Yet, fishing technology continues to improve. I remember in 2002, sailing from Australia to Hong Kong between two of our clipper route voyages, we were about 1500 miles northwest of Papua New Guinea, when suddenly there was the distinct thwap-thwap-thwap of helicopter blades. 1500 miles from land?! There was a tuna fishing vessel with a helicopter flying out to find where the tuna were! Beyond not seeming fair to the tuna, clearly it was effective or they would not have been using such expensive technology.

I recall in the 1960s and 1970s, that population was a topic much written about, studied, and discussed. Part of the discussion was what will an expanding population do to resources, and, in fact, will constrained resources constrain the population? I notice that the topic of expanding populations has essentially disappeared from public conversation. It’s not just the fisheries that would be part of that discussion, but water resources, other food resources, and job availabilities. But if the discussion does not exist, no solutions will be sought or found.

Here, I have no scientific data on the fish below the boat. I do think that we had fewer flying fish coming on deck going through the tropics. We have perhaps had more tiny shrimp come on board than I recall from other voyages here to the south. Clearly, those two observations do not deserve to be part of the scientific discussion. Yet as with other topics, we must go to the experts, such as Dr. Ambrose Jearld, and the research performed globally for fisheries, for valid assessments.