The Tragedy Of The North Atlantic Cod Fisheries

2133 Words9 Pages
The Tragedy of the North Atlantic Cod Fisheries In the 1600s, due to the abundance of cod fish in the North Atlantic waters, commercial cod fisheries became one of the foundations of the New England economy (Seelye& Bidgood, 2013). However, as people increasingly relied on fisheries to make lucrative profits, the cod fish population plummeted and the whole business reached its first collapse in the mid 1990s according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA 2014). Since then, government regulations and international agreements have gradually emerged to preserve the Atlantic cod fish population. Even though the cod fish population did seem to rebound slightly, it could never catch up with people’s monstrous appetite for…show more content…
It seems that a more effective non-technical solution is mutual coercion—to set up strong government regulations and use technical solutions to aid mutual coercion. “The Tragedy of the Commons”, according to Hardin, is a societal problem arising from individuals depleting shared resources (1968, pg 1243). Hardin’s “commons” are the limited resources shared by society that are not regulated. In commercial cod fisheries, the commons is the fishing ground, or the ocean. The tragedy of the commons refers to a dilemma— individuals, maximizing their own utility, could collectively cause the depletion of common resources. This is because assuming that humans are self-interested rational beings, every individuals’ interest is to maximize their own gain by exploiting public resources, while the collective interest is to use the resources sustainably. Likewise, in commercial cod fisheries, the individual’s interest is to catch as many fish as possible to maximize profit. Yet, the collective interest is to fish at a level sustainable for cod fish to reproduce, so that not only our generation, but also our future generations will not run out of cod. Since we have hardly resolved the gap between individual interest and collective interest, the problem persists. This gap has already led to devastating consequences. In 2015, the cod stock in the Gulf of Maine is at 18 percent of what scientists deem to be a healthy population.
Open Document