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Case Study On New England Fisheries

1371 words - 5 pages


The 1800’s the George’s Banks off the coast of New England was very generous to the fisherman who fished the sea for a living. There was a balance between what the fisherman took and what the sea could provide. By the mid-1900 that balances began greatly to shift. Technology developed during the 1950s allowed fishermen to take in much more fish than previous years. Through continued over fishing and lack of controls in place at the time, the fish stock depleted to the point the George’s Banks could no longer support the fisherman.
As early as 1914, the Government was receiving reports from the U.S. Commissioner of Fisheries on the potential impact to unregulated fishing. By 1931, serious questions were being asked about the ability of the fish to be able to continue to meet the demands and ever-increasing fishing that was occurring in the area. By the 1980s, the fishing in the George’s Banks has almost become unprofitable. (, 2004)

New England Fisheries
The fishing off the coast of New England provided jobs for many people in the New England area. The fisherman and those that worked in the canneries were first and foremost the beneficiaries of the plentiful fishing. These people were very independent group and were passionately against any form of regulation by the U.S. Government. It was recognized very early that over fishing was going to be a problem in a 1930 report done by Harvard University. A recommendation was to increase the mesh size of the net then however; it was not until 1953 that regulations occur. (, 2004) History shows 23 years to make a decision was too little to late. The fishermen took a very anthropocentric view of the entire situation. Even when faced with evidence indicating that fish population could not continue to support the over fishing, fisherman refused to implement steps to protect their livelihood and was strongly against the government doing much unless it involved removing foreign competition.
In addition to the fisherman, several sub-industries grew from the success of the fishing industry. Local salt mining was established for curing fish, ice ponds for keeping fish from going bad, and shipbuilding to support the ever-growing demand for more fish. All these businesses had a very large stake in the continued success and growth of the fishing industry. Without their business, they would have no business since they spawned from the industry themselves.
The industries mentioned thus far are strongly against regulation, as that was believed to stymie continue growth of the industry and the mention of regulations goes against the American principle. At the time, it was felt by the fisherman the fish were a continually renewing resource that was inexhaustible. They refused to look at the yearly numbers that clearly shown the continued reduction of fish. Most fisherman believed it was not their over fishing, but the competition that...

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