TRANSCRIPTS - Dr. Steven Berkeley
Steven Berkeley is a marine biologist at the Hatfield Marine
Science Center in Newport, Oregon and former staff scientist
with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. He has
conducted research on the status of North Atlantic swordfish
Is it true that the many swordfish are being caught before they
have a chance to breed?
what we call sexual dichotomy. The males and females grow at different
rates, mature at different ages. The females are the component of
the population that were most concerned about because they
are the fish that do the reproduction. The minimum age for female
swordfish to spawn is about age five. And about 165 pounds. And
most of the population now, of course, is below that size. So its
true. For most fish that are being caught now, for most of the females
anyway, they have not reproduced.
at a much younger age and a smaller size. And so thats probably
not true of the males. But again, its the females that are
the most vulnerable.
What percentage of the catch would you say is immature?
know the exact number but the percentage of females that are being
caught now by long-lines that are below the size of maturity is
at least 50%, and probably more than that.
What percentage would make a sustainable fishery?
a much more complex question than that because its not just
what size youre harvesting; its the rate at which youre
harvesting the fish. Its the proportion of all the age classes
that youre harvesting. The way the fishery is pursued right
now, and with long-lines that take all sizes of fish, to reduce
it so that the population was sustainable, considering the size
classes that are being caught by the gear, would require a reduction
of close to half, I believe. It is quite significant though. The
landings, I think in the North Atlantic were something like 16,000
metric tons last year. And the sustainable would be less than 10,000
tons. So were talking about a substantial reduction in landings.
And that still would just stabilize the population, it wouldnt
allow the stock to rebuild. So if you want to rebuild the stock,
the quota would have to be less than 10,000 metric tons. The current
harvest levels, ocean-wide is about 16,000 metric tons.
When you say ocean wide, you mean greater than the US?
the North Atlantic. And so that includes other fisheries
Spain and Portugal and a lot of other countries.
How important is it to restrict fishing in spawning and nursing
stock is over fished, there are certain age classes that are particularly
vulnerable and require particular protection. And right now, of
course, they are the older females which have been reduced so badly
in numbers over the last few years. At this point, its a different
question than it would have been 10 years ago. Ten years ago we
were trying primarily to protect young fish because the fish are
small. They dont have a lot of value and they would be much
more valuable, both to the stock and to the fishery if they were
allowed to grow into larger fish. They grow very quickly when theyre
young fish. So it just makes biological sense and it makes economic
sense to protect those fish. So protecting those nursery areas,
at that time, was the principal objective.
the stock is so badly over fished, you really want to reduce fishing
mortality on both old spawning fish as well as young fish to allow
the population to recover. So now you really need to protect both
the nursery areas as well as reduce fishing mortality, on the older,
mature fish population. So its not really a simple question.
It still makes perfect biological and economic sense to protect
the nursery areas. Those fish are young, theyre small, they
havent reproduced and they dont contribute economically
a great deal to the fishery but they potentially can contribute
a great deal to the rebuilding of the resource. Those areas should
definitely be protected.
Do you believe they are adequately protected now?
almost no protection for the nursery areas. And the only protection
right now are essentially quotas. Size limits. I just ran an analysis
of the impact of the size limit, and it turns out that size limits
are counter-productive in this fishery because such a high proportion
of fish caught on long-lines are dead. So that if you have a minimum
size, which is one of the regulations thats in effect now,
you end up just throwing back dead fish and replacing them with
other fish which actually increases mortality. The size limit is
not effective in this fishery. The quotas are potentially effective
but theyre not low enough. The quotas are too high to allow
this stock to recover.
To what degree would you say the North Atlantic swordfish population
has diminished in recent years?
been diminishing pretty steadily since the 1970s. And probably
before that. Long-lining was introduced in the early 1960s
and before that it was a harpoon fishery. And the harpoon fishery
took only large fish, mostly mature fish, fish that had spawned,
and so it was a very selective type of fishing gear. It didnt
have by-catch and it took only large mature fish. So it was actually
a very nice fishery. Long-lines catch everything; all size classes.
Theyre very effective. And the populations have been in decline,
pretty steadily since at least the late 1970's, early 1980's, with
the big expansion of the fishery into tropical waters, as long-lining
became more widespread. And the populations have been in pretty
much mono-tonic decline since about 1980. So, for almost 20 years
What fraction or percentage of the population has diminished?
1990 to about 1996, the latest assessments of the North Atlantic
show that the population is at 50%, 58% of the level that would
produce the maximum yield.
Some of the US long-liners weve spoken to say theres
plenty of swordfish out there and that the research data is seriously
flawed. Could you comment on that?
I guess it depends
on your definition of "plenty of swordfish". There are
swordfish out there for sure. And theres still significant
quantities of swordfish being landed. But the population is declining.
The population cannot sustain these levels of harvest. If the population
is going to continue to decline, if harvests are continued at this
rate, Id have to ask the question, "Compared to what?".
Most of these
fisherman werent fishing when the populations were at their
unfished levels or anywhere near unfished levels. The population
of swordfish has been fished since the late 1800s and has been declining
severely since about 1980. So there are now plenty of swordfish
in the ocean, in the North Atlantic anyway, compared to the level
of 1980. There may be plenty of swordfish compared to last year,
or almost as many swordfish as last year. But it depends on how
long a history you look back on. The population is much smaller
than it used to be and its smaller in terms of the average
size of the fish in the population as well. The average sized swordfish
today is less than half the average size it was 20 years ago.
Earlier you referred to the fact that a long-liners career
is often short lived and therefore their perspective and sense of
stock population is largely dependent upon how long theyve
been fishing. Could you comment on that?
Right, a persons
perspective on whether or not there are a lot a fish or not depends
on how far back in the fishery he goes. So if youve only been
fishing for five or ten years, you dont see the decline that
you would have seen had you been fishing for 20 years.
In simple terms, how do fishery managers or scientists determine
when a fish stock is being over fished?
The reason swordfish
are considered over fished is because the population is not large
enough to reproduce at the level that it could reproduce at if it
were allowed to rebuild to a higher level. Every population of fish
has a carrying capacity. The ocean has a certain carrying capacity
and there is a level of population that will produce the maximum
yield. And thats the level we are trying to attain, at least
with swordfish. With other fish were even more cautious. In
fact some species were much more cautious than just finding the
level that produces the maximum yield because that doesnt
necessarily give you the most protection from resource collapse.
But with swordfish, wed be happy to bring them back to the
biomass level, the quantity of fish in the ocean that would allow
the maximum production. And as I said before, were at about
58% of that level now.
To what degree do you think ICCAT (International Commission for
the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna) and other treaties are protecting
North Atlantic Swordfish?
track record is not very good. Most of the species that are under
the jurisdiction of ICCAT are over fished. Swordfish, of course,
being one of the primary ones as swordfish is perhaps declining
faster than almost any other of the large pelagic fish in the North
Atlantic. Its very difficult to manage a resource internationally.
But its my sense that its only been in very recent years,
with a lot of public pressure on ICCAT, that theyve taken
their job at all seriously. Right now the quotas, the management
measures that ICCAT has put in place are still too little. Theyre
just insufficient to allow stocks to rebuild. And that doesnt
seem to have changed in the last few years. They put on quotas.
Theyve initiated quotas but not enforced them. And they have
size limits that are not enforced and the quotas are too high anyway.
Its a political process. Its kind of like making sausage;
its not very pretty and usually the compromises that are reached
are not in favor of the resource, but are more in favor of the countries
that are exploiting these resources. So what we end up with is a
situation where you have quotas that are too high and then the next
time the stocks continue to decline and the quotas have to be reduced
even further. And you end up trying to chase something and never
Do you think the discards should be counted against the quota?
Well my opinion
on this is either you count the discards against the quota or you
eliminate the minimum size so that you basically eliminate the discards.
Either one would have the same effect because youre fishing
under a quota. When the quota is taken, the fishery presumably will
be closed. It would actually be far better to count the discards
against the quota and if the alternative isnt an option, because
the US has to fish under ICCAT regulations, they cant just
disregard ICCATthe ICCAT minimum size. But I have been requesting
that they go to ICCAT and just try to get the quota dropped because
the fish are going to be dead anyway, and theres no sense
dropping them over the side. Such a high percentage of these fish
are dead when theyre brought along side a long-line boat.
You may as well let the fisherman keep them, count them against
the quota and close the fishery when the quota is taken.
The minimum size right now is 44lbs. Do you agree with that?
size, as I said, isnt particularly effective. The only way
a minimum size in this fishery can work is if its high enough
to discourage fisherman from fishing in the first place. Otherwise
its just going to create a discard, a dead discard problem.
So Im not an advocate of minimum sizes. But if you were to
find a minimum...to choose a minimum size that would be effective,
it would have to be way larger than it is now. Something around
150 pounds would probably be an effective minimum size because the
population is so skewed towards small fish, that a minimum size
of something like 150 pounds would mean boats just simply couldnt
fish. And so its a de facto closure, its not really
a minimum size thats effective, it just forces boats to stop
fishing. If youre going to do that you may as well just have
a closure directly and not try to do it through the back door.
In your opinion what would be adequate conservation measures in
order to protect the stock?
The first thing,
and the most pressing issue right now is to reduce fishing mortality,
which means reducing the quotas dramatically. And that would be
a shared reduction by all the countries that harvest the resource,
both ICCAT signatory nations and non-signatory nations to ICCAT.
Because theres no sense in having a quota that applies only
to part of the fleet. Everybody that fishes for this resource has
to reduce the landing, their catch. And it has to be a pretty dramatic
reduction for this population to rebuild. So that would be the very
minimum step to begin the stock on a rebuilding path.
The next step
in rational management would be to reduce the harvest of small fish
which are very fast growing. The national mortality rate is relatively
low. The young fish are putting on weight very quickly. The biomass
of that segment of the population is increasing very quickly. So
it makes no sense to catch those fish. Because you cant do
it with a minimum size and have a long-line fishery. At least so
far we dont know how to selectively fish only for large fish.
What you would have to do then is close the major nursery areas.
And we do know where these areas are, or at least we know where
some of them are. The Gulf of Mexico is very significant proportion
of the catch, very young fish in the Gulf of Mexico. The Straits
of Florida has a very high proportion of very young fish. So those
areas certainly could be closed to long-line. The Gulf of Guinea,
on the other side of the ocean has a very high proportion of very
small fish in the catch; close that area. Allow those fish to grow
to reach maturity, or at the very least to reach a size at which
theyre of higher value both to the economics of the
fishery as well as to the stock itself, and harvest them at that
And the combination
of reducing the quota and protecting the nursery areas will rebuild
the stock. And it will not only rebuild the stock to previous levels,
it will allow the stock, the production of the stock to increase.
Because you can be harvesting fish at a biologically better size,
when theyre larger. And so you can actually get more biomass
out of the stock by reducing the harvest of small fish.
Some of the long-liners weve spoken to say theyre staying
out of the nursery areas but wonder what good its doing because
the foreigners are still doing it.
The data that
Ive seen suggests to me that nobody is doing that that
people are fishing wherever they can catch fish. And if that means
going into nursery areas to catch a few big fish and discard a lot
of small fish then thats what theyre doing. Of course,
if there are areas where theres a higher concentration of
large fish, naturally they will go there. But the data doesnt
suggest that theres been any major reduction in the actual
catch of small fish, even with the quotas being in place. Theres
been maybe a small reduction but not much of one. And so youve
changed, youve converted small fish catches into small fish
discards. And thats been the major impact of this. The foreign
fleets have shown very little inclination; in fact, no real inclination
to even recognize that there is a minimum-sized regulation in place.
They continue to catch small fish, well in excess of the allowable,
incidental take that ICCAT allows, which is 15% of the line to catch.
Most of the other countries have completely disregarded this regulation.
The U.S. hasnt but unfortunately even though the U.S. fisherman
are law abiding, it hasnt helped the stock because theyre
just discarding dead fish.
The statistic weve heard from SeaWeb is that 98% of fish caught
by US fishermen are caught by long-line. Is it fair just to blame
the long-lines or is gillnetting also a problem?
In the Atlantic
gillnetting is very, very small. In the U.S. we dont allow
gill-netting for swordfish; that gear was outlawed a couple
of years ago. So that fishery is dead now. And it never was
much of a take. So the harvest of swordfish in the Atlantic is by
long-line, thats where it comes from. Theres a very,
very small take by harpoon. Its quite small, almost zero
in the US, a little bit in Canada. And theres just a little
bit of incidental gillnetting in Europe. Its a long-line
Do you think its possible to go back to harpooning? Do you
think that may ultimately be the answer to a sustainable fishery?
know if it is politically or practically possible to go back to
harpooning. As you probably know, its mostly large fish that
are seen finning. And right now, there are very few of those fish
left in the population. But if you could rebuild a stock to the
levels that used to exist, where there was a healthy population
of large fish and only allowed harpooning, I dont think youd
ever need another regulation. You could let that fishery go, unregulated,
and the stock would be sustainable.
How is the removal of swordfish and other top keystone predators
a potential threat to the health of ocean ecosystems?
This is something
that Ive worried about and thought about a lot. And the answer
is we just simply dont know. That open ocean environment is
so alien and so remote from human interaction that we really dont
have much appreciation for what these types of impacts of removing
these large predators will have on that ecosystem because we have
such a poor understanding of that ecosystem in the first place.
Falling back on first principles, I would have to conclude that
removing all of these large predators in such significant numbers
bluefin tuna and mako sharks and poor beagle sharks and swordfish
and yellowfin tuna and bigeye tuna. All of these fish, including
the marlins have been severely reduced in population size and all
of these fish are top apex predators in that oceanic environment.
I have to assume, just based on first principles, that there is
going to be a cascading effect of some sort from their removal on
the species at lower trophic levels, the lower levels on the food
chain. But what those impacts are, we dont know. Its
a kind of a gamble that were taking by doing this, by removing
so many large predators from a system that we dont understand.
Weve looked at whats happened in the North Atlantic.
To what degree could this happen in the Pacific?
is expanding in the Pacific and I think if you look at the history
of fisheries worldwide, pretty much everything thats happened
in the Atlantic eventually repeats itself in the Pacific. And I
think there is an opportunity to learn from past mistakes and try
to gain an understanding from our experiences in the Atlantic and
apply them to the Pacific. So the stocks in the Pacific are still
probably healthy. But theyre heavily fished. So I think theres
time to take heed of this and to start implementing management measures.
But unfortunately, in the Pacific we dont even have a management
body formed yet. There are some efforts in that direction right
now, and probably there will be in the next few years. But right
now, we dont even have a mechanism to implement regulations
or even to collect data on a base and scale, like we have in the
Atlantic. So, although ICCAT has failed in their management regimes,
they have been largely unsuccessful in protecting the stocks. At
least we have a very robust data base in the Atlantic and probably
quite good stock assessments because of that. In the Pacific were
not at that point yet. We dont have the data base because
we dont have that international body collecting the data.
What is so unique about swordfish?
a really amazing animal. They are probably the most widely distributed
large predatory fish in the world. Theyre found in the Atlantic.
Theyre found from almost 50 degrees north latitude to 45 or
50 south latitude. Theyre found in all the oceans of the world.
Theyre very large; theyre very powerful swimmers. They
have a unique physiological adaptation, which allows them to have
this huge range. They have a specialized organ in their skull that
heats the brain. Its a specialized musculature that, instead
of using it to produce motion, it uses to produce heat. And it allows
them to feel, to exploit both the very deep ocean, which is too
cold for most cold blooded animals to exploit. And also to exploit
a very large latitudinal range from, like I said, from 50 degrees
north to 50 degrees south. So theyre unique in that sense.
They grow to very large sizes. They can feed on the bottom, they
can feed on the surface. They eat bottom fish, they eat shrimp.
Theyre a very adaptable predator. Their downfall, of course,
is that they have a big appetite and they bite on long-lines very
readily and so theyre caught very quickly. Theyre very
vulnerable to this type of fishing.
Of the billfishes,
theyre the only bill fish that has that type of bill and its
a very large weapon compared to a marlin or sailfish, which is relatively
small and round. The bill of a swordfish is about a third of their
body length and its sharpened on the edges its
flat and its compressed. And the edges are extremely sharp.
And they use this for slashing through their prey. You frequently
find squid in their stomachs with no heads on them and with cuts
in the body, presumably from the slashing action. So theyre
different, very different, from the other bill fishes. Theyre
quite a magnificent species that used to commonly get up to five
and six-hundred pounds, even up to a thousand pounds, but that size
fish now, unfortunately, is quite rarealmost unheard of.
Could you speak a little about how deep the swordfish go?
know the maximum depth. In the depths that we know they go to, I
believe there have been a couple that have gotten hung up on the
transatlantic cablethe telephone cables. So we know that they
go down. I think its about 3,000 feet. They may go much deeper
than that; we dont know. They occasionally show up, actually,
in the stomachs of sperm whales. Theyve been known to be preyed
on by sperm whales. And they do make very deep feeding forays down,
probably to the bottom or near the bottom. Theyve been seen
in deep diving submersibles, sitting on the bottom, just almost
motionless on the bottom. So thats unusual behavior for an
open ocean pelagic fish. You wouldnt catch a blue fin tuna
doing that or a marlin doing that. So theyre very different
than those fish. The theory anyway is that after making these deep
feeding dives they will come up and sit on the surface, in the warmer
surface waters to allow them to digest their food. All the biological
processes slow down dramatically in cold temperatures so being a
cold-blooded animal they will sit on the surface. And they probably
are a little bit drowsy after that and that is probably why swordfish
harpooners were able to approach them so closely. Although I guess
after being harpooned theyre active after that. I dont
think they stay drowsy too long. But that is the thought right now,
is that its a physiological adaptation to allow them to digest
their food so they can go back down and have another go ahead.
A number of the fishermen weve spoken with say that the scientists
are only researching areas here and there and thats part of
the reason their assessment data is flawed. Could you comment on
fishermens optimism for you, of course. The size of the fish
stock just determines to a certain extent the distribution of the
fish stock. When a population is at a high level of abundance then
all the areas that are capable of supporting these fish will be
occupied with swordfish. When the population is at a low level or
any population of fish is at a low level, the populations tend to
shrink back into the core areas their most preferred habitats.
And there are lots of areas now, especially the near shore areas
that havent seen swordfish in many decades.
not just because the world has changed or the ocean has changed,
its because the population is at a lower level and those fish
are not there. Thats why there is no harpoon fishery now.
There are no large fish. They used to site swordfish from the beaches
on Long Island and New England. The groundfish boats would carry
harpoons to harpoon swordfish. Well theyre not in those areas
now. Its not because theyve changed their migration,
its because the population has shrunk and they dont
occupy those areas anymore. They occupy the more productive core
areas where swordfish are found, and thats why theyre
true that swordfish move around. Theyre a highly migratory
species; they move over broad areas. But these areas are now quite
well known. We know they move. They migrate south to the spawning
grounds and in the Straits of Florida and the Caribbean, and they
move back north to feed on Georges Bank and Grand Banks and some
of those other highly productive feeding areas. And they do this
on an annual cycle. Theyre not moving further offshore, its
just that the populations that are left are further off shore. Thats
why the boats are having to chase them further off-shore.
have any data that could prove or establish that, or disprove it.
I mean its a hypothesis. But weve seen this with other
species; that when you reduce the population through fishing that
the range of the stock shrinks, and this is just another example
of that. Theres nothing unique about this; we see it will
all sorts of species.
What are some of the other problems concerned with managing this
One of the other
problems with managing this fishery is that long-lines, as I think
you mentioned, long-lines take the whole complex they catch
swordfish, they catch tunas, they catch billfishes, they catch sailfish,
they catch a whole suite of fish in the ocean. And so one of the
problems with trying to manage this gear is that if you reduce the
amount of targeted sword fishing swordfish long-lining, which
has happened, partly because the stocks are declining and partly
because of quotas and for other reasons. And these vessels then
go tuna fishing, for example. Theres a fairly active yellowfin
tuna fishery in the Gulf of Mexico where they continue to catch
juvenile swordfish as a by-catch. So this is a real challenge for
managing this fishery - the fact that, to a large extent, it is
not very species selective.
You put a long-line
gear in the water, at least the way theyre fished now, and
you tend to catch a whole suite of fish. For the fisherman, many
of these fish are highly valued and theyre happy to catch
them. But from the standpoint of trying to manage the fishery, it
becomes a very difficult challenge because you. If you put a quota
on swordfish, the quotas taken and the boats go and fish for
big-eyed tuna or for yellowfin tuna and they continue to catch swordfish
and discard them over the side. And especially in the case of swordfish,
because theyre mostly dead, you end up just increasing your
And so this
is another aspect of managing this gear that it makes it very difficult.
The Japanese, for example, dont target swordfish at all, and
yet theyre one of the biggest swordfish harvesting countries
in the world because they catch them in the course of harvesting
tuna. So its very hard to manage this gear.
doing some research now on trying to make the gear more selective.
And its sort of interesting because as it turns out one of
the reasons why the gear is not selective is because what happens
to it once its in the water is not intuitive with whats
going on down there. And the only reason I know that this is happening
is because we put instrumentation on the line. And we can monitor
the depth and the temperature of the hooks and we can determine
the performance of the gear.
We have hook
timers that we use so we know the actual time that a fish struck
the bait, and we know what depth the gear was when that bait was
struck and what temperature the gear was. And what happened is a
complete surprise. It was a complete surprise to me, and it was
a complete surprise to the fishermen on this boat that I was working
with. Because we work on commercial fishing boats, the gear, instead
of laying in nice even scallops in the ocean, which is how everybody
pictures long-line gear as sitting, instead was meandering all over
the water column. Sometimes it would come way up, almost close to
the surface. Other times it would go down, hundreds of meters. I
mean not just little meanders, but these huge vertical meanders,
and I think that largely explains why the gear is so non-selective
because theres no control over where that gear is fishing.
So, the thrust of my research now is to try to determine how you
can set the gear so it stays where you want it. Because if you know
that swordfish are going to be found above the thermocline, for
example, in a certain water temperature, and you can keep the gear
there, then youll catch swordfish. If you cant keep
the gear there, youre going to catch everything else
youll catch billfish and mako sharks and tunas and everything
else that youre not after.
So in the last
few years this has been one of the thrusts of my research. The gear
is here, I mean it is very widely used by lots of countries and
if we cant find another way to fish, at least lets do
the best we can with the gear thats out there. I think without
having the instrumentation board, the fishermen had no idea that
this is how his gear was performing. I think that most fishermen
dont realize that. And if you dont know how your gear
is performing, its kind of like putting a bottom trawl down
without knowing how deep it is and what kind of bottom youre
over. Its just like a crap shoot. So by trying to figure out
ways of fixing the gear in the water column and getting it to set
where you want it and the temperature you want it at, I think you
can make it. What Im trying to do is figure out ways of making
it more selective. Because as I said, thats one of the problems
with the gear. Its non-selectivity.
The more selective
you can make the gear, the more options you have for management.
What were seeing with New England is hook fishermen who arent
using bottom trawlers yet are actually able to catch cod. Were
seeing that it actually takes some gray matter and a methodical
approach. Do you think there is a new breed of fishermen out there,
whose success is due to the fact that theyre applying their
minds to the task?
I think so.
And, you knowit just the evolution of the fishery. And
I think youre going to see it more and more, and particulary
as the regulatory climate gets more and more oppressive and you
have to work, not just to figure out how to catch fish but also
how to catch just the fish you want and not have a discard problem.
This is a big problem, not just in long-lining but in a lot of fisheries.
You have to figure out how to fish for the market, the prices. And
its become very complICCATed, and as regulations get more
and more restrictivewhere you can fish, when you can fish,
you have to make the most out of every hook. Right now, the average
long-line fisherman, many that Ive worked with, their solution
to not catching enough fish is to put more gear in the water. If
we aint catching enough fish in 20 miles of long-line, lets
put in 30 miles of long-line. But the intelligent fishermen, instead
of just putting more gear in the water and having more by-catch
and wasting more bait and more light sticks, figure out how to hone
in on the fish that are there and how to concentrate their gear
in areas where theyre more likely to catch fish, where the
catch rates are going to be higher. And thats the fisherman
that ultimately will be successful.
And no matter
what the management regime is, no matter what the regulations are,
there will always be a small percentage of fisherman that are going
to be successful. And theyre the ones that fish more with
their heads than with their backs. And thats where we are
right now. There are no more easy fish left in the ocean. And to
be successful as a fisherman you have to be pretty clever and I
think pretty analytically. And especially with long-line fisheries
because youre dealing in such an alien realm. You know, you
have to rely on instrumentation and you have to rely on remote sensing
and this sort of thing. No defining areas in the ocean that you
can see visually. Those days are going the smells right
here. I think those days are pretty well gone.
They talk a lot about the instrumentation and the high tech world
its not leaving fish with anywhere to hide. Could you comment
got navigation equipment that you never had. Youve got temperature-sensing
gear that youve never had. Youve got global positioning
systems, and temperature probes and acoustic doplar current profiles,
for god sakes, I meanoceanographic vessels dont all
have acoustic doplar current profiles. This is pretty sophistICCATed
instrumentation for a fishing boat. And they make use of that. And
that isnt captured by the catch per hundred hooks. So fishermen
that are very heavily instrumented can maintain a catch rate that,
without that instrumentation, I dont think they could. So
you tend to overestimate the stock size, from looking at this kind
of catch and effort data.
Its clear the impact of the high tech equipment is that they
catch more fish but then theres the implication for assessment
based on landing. Is that relevant?
Based on landings
and log books. You know, somebodys fishing the same 20 miles
of water with the gear I always fished, but its not the same.
It may be the same 500 hooks but its a whole different 500
hooks. Youve got 14 different colors of light sticks, and
people are dying their squid and theyre using much higher
quality monofilament thinner and more invisible. Youve got
different ways of rigging baits, and thats just the tip of
the iceberg. Then youve got all the electronic gear that didnt
exist 20 years ago. Fisherman actually and honestly tell me, "If
we used the gear that we were using 20 years ago today, we wouldnt
catch a fish nothing. "
And this is
from people who are experienced, who have fished. And the changes
took place very rapidly. It really has only been in probably 20
years that all of this has taken place all these changes
in materials, in the quality of the monofilament and hooks and all
that just the hardware. I dont know of a boat that
doesnt have a computer on it now. I mean you cant go
into a wheelhouse now without at least one computer and weather
fax machines, and GPS, and downtown probes, and surface temperature
probes. Its a different fleet than it was even 10 years ago.