Fish at the entrance to Maori Bay

Article: Daniel Pauly in The New Republic on the end of fish

Well-known marine ecologist Daniel Pauly wrote (in 2009 – but I’ve only just discovered it!) a chilling, fascinating article for The New Republic, entitled “Aquacalypse Now”. In it he describes the “fishing-industrial complex” that hold our oceans hostage, devastating one fish population and then moving on to the next species, renaming it (“slimehead” become orange roughy) or processing it into fish fingers (the ugly hoki suffers this fate) to make it unrecognisable to diners and shoppers.

He compares the process by which fisheries have obtained government subsidies to a giant Ponzi scheme, and points out that the amount of money given to fisheries and the political influence they command is disproportionately large given that, for example, US fisheries contribute as much to GDP as the hair styling industry does.

Some of what Pauly says will be familiar to readers of The End of the Line (and he appears in the documentary – he is the one who says something like “You want to know where all the have fish gone? We have eaten them.”), but he expresses himself with cutting clarity. He points out that the issue is not that we as divers will have no more fishies to look at, or that wealthy Americans will have to eat steak instead of fish, but that billions of people in the world’s poorer countries actually depend on marine animals as their sole source of protein. For them, as well as for the fish, it is a matter of life and death. With this in view, he states that

… eating a tuna roll at a sushi restaurant should be considered no more environmentally benign than driving a Hummer or harpooning a manatee.

Read the article here. Pauly himself is a fascinating character with an important voice and message – there’s an interview with him here.

Published by


Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *