Sustainable Development in Fisheries-Dependent Regions? Reflections on the Unsustainable Newfoundland Cod Fisheries
Sustainable development is a popular concept but is also confusing because it can have a range of meanings with respect to what is to be sustained, why it should be sustained, how sustainability should be measured, and what political process is involved. This paper looks at the Newfoundland cod stock collapse of 1992 and explores factors to account for why the cod fishery proved to be unsustainable. It is argued that the northern cod fishery could not be sustained because the resource was over fished, although other factors may have played a small role. The overfishing was rooted in the inability (however understandable) of scientists to produce accurate stock estimates, inadequate management, and the underlying need for Canadian and foreign deep-sea companies to expand production. The massive sudden unemployment caused by the moratorium was significant for the many people in areas of rural Newfoundland that depended primarily on this fishery. One important lesson learned from the cod fish collapse is that the fish populations cannot be sustained while increasing numbers of fish are caught, and that the human populations can only be sustained if they do not exhaust natural resources. Sustainable development of an economy and society based on fisheries resources is too insecure for the people of regions that depend almost exclusively on them. However, sustainable fisheries should be possible with adequate analysis of the total ecosystem and effective control of fishing practices.
30 Nov -0001
St. John's, NL
Fishing, hunting and trapping
Strategic Research Theme
Community and Regional Development
Oceans, Fisheries and Aquaculture