Saturday, 16 February 2013

Cod Fisheries

As a former regular visitor to Cape Cod, it always fascinated me the history of cod fishing in the area versus what it is today.  For those who don't know, the atlantic cod fisheries have been completely devastated by overfishing.  I have a hard time agreeing with people who say humans are too small to have a big impact on the world.

Why is this on the news?  NYtimes is reporting the new 77% cuts to cod quotes for the next few years in an attempt to save the fisheries.  As you can imagine, a lot of complaints in there from fishermen who claim the New England Fishery Management Council (and US Gov't by proxy) is interfering with their livelihood and is going to kill jobs and etc etc.  Well you know what?  Tough luck, the fisheries are dying, the farming is non-sustainable.  What good is your job when you'll wipe out all the fish in another 5 or 10 yrs?  

People need to learn what the word "sustainable" means.

Some excerpts from Wikipedia:

Newfoundland's northern cod fishery can be traced back to the 16th century. On average, about 300,000 tonnes of cod were landed annually until the 1960s, when advances in technology enabled factory trawlers to take larger catches. By 1968, landings for the fish peaked at 800,000 tonnes before a gradual decline set in. With the reopening of the limited cod fisheries in 2006, nearly 2,700 tonnes of cod were hauled in. In 2007, offshore cod stocks were estimated at one per cent of what they were in 1977.[18]
Technologies that contributed to the collapse of Atlantic cod include engine-powered vessels and frozen food compartments aboard ships. Engine-powered vessels had larger nets, larger engines, and better navigation. The capacity to catch fish became limitless. 

Below is the by country breakdown of Atlantic NW cod in millions of tonnes.  Does that look sustainable to you?

The lesson to take away for investors is that you have to take a long term sustainable view.  Too often (I am guilty of this as well), people made 1 bet that succeeds wildly and forget the big picture and the science of probability.  You have to be able to make your gains in a sustainable fashion.  And you have to be able to do it time and time again.  Yes its slow but otherwise go play the lottery.

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