Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Fish numbers increase in Gulf of Mexico

Isn't this interesting? For all the concern the oil spill would have on the environment, it seems the associated shutdown of fishing was significantly more beneficial for marine life than oil was harmful.
...ongoing research suggests the federal closure of the richest portion of the Gulf to all fishing through the spring and summer months resulted in dramatic increases in the abundance of numerous marine creatures, from shrimp to sharks.

...Data collected this year shows a marked departure from previous years.

Valentine’s research, which consists of trawl surveys in Mobile Bay, Mississippi Sound and around the barrier islands shows a roughly threefold increase in what the nets captured after the spill compared to before, in terms of both the weight of the catch and the number of animals caught. Valentine said it was possible seasonal factors played a role in the changes in the data, though he believed the lack of fishing was the key.
It may be difficult to untangle the variables and estimate the true contribution of altered fishing patterns. No mention was made of bacteria breaking down the oil and whether the oil acted as a food source for these organisms which had upstream beneficial effects; I don't even know if such a theory is viable.

What is interesting in the article is the incredulity of many interviewees. It seems the biosphere is more resilient than many give it credit, and appropriate stewardship of our resources—in this case fishing quotas—is what is required. This is not to say that the region was being over fished, we need data informing us what the maximal sustainable catch is.

1 comment:

  1. And there is this

    The scientists I spoke with cite four basic reasons the initial eco-fears seem overblown. First, the Deepwater oil, unlike the black glop from the Valdez, is unusually light and degradable, which is why the slick in the Gulf is dissolving surprisingly rapidly now that the gusher has been capped. Second, the Gulf of Mexico, unlike Alaska's Prince William Sound, is very warm, which has helped bacteria break down the oil.

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