Local Autonomy: A Key to Protection of the Ecosystem

When Europeans first visited the east Atlantic seaboard, the hyperabundance of cod would not go unnoticed. In 1602, English explorer Bartholomew Gosnold named the peninsula, where the Nauset and Wampanoag people lived, Cape Cod after its fish stocks.

The Grand Banks of Newfoundland and Georges Bank of Massachusetts and Nova Scotia were immensely rich fishing grounds that were plundered by the early 1990s. Subsequently, a moratorium was imposed on the fisheries in hopes of recovery.

In the case of the Grand Banks, one analysis laid the blame squarely on technology, draggers, factory trawlers and “the expansionary dynamics of capitalism [that] caused Canadian vessels to scour the seas for ever increasing profit…” “[O]verfishing, primarily driven by the capitalist ethic, was one of the major causes of the collapse of the North Atlantic Cod fishery.”,

In his book, The Plundered Seas, Michael Berrill called the Grand Banks and Georges Bank maybe the saddest story of overfishing. Berrill recognized the problem of protecting straddling stocks, as projections of the Grand Banks were outside Canada’s EEZ; moreover, Spain and the EU ignored the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization quotas.

Worldwide, Berrill pointed to a peak in captured fish stocks in 1989, that signaled a maximum sustainable global catch having been approached. The FAO concurred, finding that “unregulated fisheries were often leading to resource depletion.” Given that the global…

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