Cod sal­va­tion and dev­il­ish in­ter­fer­ence

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - EDITORIAL -

Try it at a party some time. Take your smart phone out of your pocket, as if you’ve just felt the gen­tle vi­bra­tion of an ar­riv­ing text. But don’t even wake it up — if you turn the phone on, you might get dis­tracted and miss the whole point of the ex­er­cise.

No, look at your blank phone for a mo­ment or two, and then slide it back into your pocket or purse. Then watch.

No mat­ter how en­gag­ing the con­ver­sa­tion, no mat­ter how close and en­joy­able your friends are, you’ll see the other phones sneak out. And un­til they do, it’s sur­pris­ing how un­com­fort­able and twitchy your friends will be­come.

It’s not uni­ver­sal, of course: there are those among us who have yet to be in­doc­tri­nated into the brother­hood and sis­ter­hood of the en­dor­phin phone rush. Heck, there are still flip-phones around oc­ca­sion­ally, and in­di­vid­u­als with the strength to re­sist the urge.

But it’s fewer and fewer ev­ery day.

We’ve built an im­pres­sive tech­nol­ogy — one that can get our at­ten­tion dur­ing al­most any wak­ing hour, even if we nei­ther en­joy what we’re see­ing or take any real plea­sure in be­ing con­stantly up to date.

We’re ad­dicted to that lit­tle rush, as much as we might de­spise be­ing tied to the In­ter­net world. Close to one in eight Amer­i­cans al­ready has a demon­stra­ble In­ter­net ad­dic­tion, and the numbers are grow­ing.

Go on your phone and look up In­ter­net or elec­tronic ad­dic­tion, and you will see reams of in­for­ma­tion — gotcha! You’re look­ing at your phone again, right? Feel­ing the itch?

Then look at teens and 20-year-olds — they’re in con­stant con­tact with their phones and the In­ter­net, to the point that they lit­er­ally can­not func­tion with­out them. You can only imag­ine how stressed young­sters must be at the very idea of phone-free schools, an idea that’s grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity. Chil­dren and even ba­bies are be­ing in­tro­duced to phones and tablets as dis­trac­tive de­vices at an in­cred­i­bly early age — sure, it’s a learn­ing tool, but it’s also a crutch.

Be­hav­ioral sci­en­tist ar­gue that we’re re­pro­gram­ming our brains, that we’re train­ing our­selves to want a jolt of news or in­for­ma­tion or just plain con­tact ev­ery few sec­onds — and that the rewiring is dif­fi­cult to change, es­pe­cially when smart phones and other elec­tron­ics are in­te­gral to fam­ily or­ga­ni­za­tion and con­tact. You can’t sim­ply choose to opt out.

But here’s a ques­tion, not only about what we’re do­ing to our­selves, but about how that change in brain chem­istry can be ex­ploited in the fu­ture — are we sow­ing the seeds for all sorts of ad­dic­tive is­sues later?

The way we’re chang­ing our brains, and the way that brain chem­istry toys with us, leaves us par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble to any­thing from video gambling de­vices to mar­ket­ing that can play on the new path­ways we’re build­ing.

For us right now, smart­phones could be seen as a threat. But for some­one else, they may well be a dan­ger­ous op­por­tu­nity.

The more peo­ple I talk to about the fish­ery the more I be­come con­vinced that there are three root causes of the re­oc­cur­ring catas­tro­phes in the fish­ing in­dus­try.

Those causes are cor­po­rate prof­its, elec­tion votes and union agen­das. Com­bined, they add up to po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence.

We have been dig­ging and tun­nelling for hun­dreds of years but we still have more non-re­new­able re­sources left un­der the ground than we have re­new­able re­sources left un­der the wa­ter.

What does that tell us about our track record on man­ag­ing our re­new­able re­sources?

We have be­come ex­pert at find­ing ex­cuses. We can­not take any credit for the nickel, oil and ion ore un­der our feet; that was caused by cen­turies of meta­mor­phic re­ac­tions. We are now be­ing told we had noth­ing to do with the de­clin­ing amount of shrimp un­der the waves, — that was caused by global warm­ing.

The bright spot these days seems to be cod, our saviour.

While look­ing for ev­i­dence that lessons have been learned about cod, we can­not ig­nore South Coast (3Ps) Cod.

A mora­to­rium on com­mer­cial cod fish­ing in 3Ps cod was im­ple­mented in 1993 and after a few years the fish­ery re­opened. DFO spring sur­vey biomass es­ti­mates, since 2005, have av­er­aged about 40 thou­sand tonnes an­nu­ally. How­ever, from 1959 to 1993, the com­mer­cial catch av­er­aged about 45 thou­sand tonnes

While know­ing that the cur­rent av­er­age 3Ps sur­vey biomass has been lower than his­toric catch lev­els for the stock, it was busi­ness as usual. Even drag­ging for cod on spawn­ing grounds dur­ing spawn­ing sea­son has been on­go­ing. There were no ob­jec­tions from corporations, politi­cians or the union un­til quo­tas could not be caught and had to be slashed.

Sound fa­mil­iar?

A few years ago, we were told by cor­po­rate, po­lit­i­cal and union ex­ec­u­tives that things would be dif­fer­ent for North­ern cod. Not to worry, a slow and easy ap­proach will be taken, they said back then.

The same day we got the ter­ri­ble news about the de­cline in shrimp biomass, the slow and easy ap­proach for North­ern cod dis­ap­peared along with shrimp.

Is it co­in­ci­dence that the north­ern cod stock sud­denly be­came healthy enough to ab­sorb dou­bling of the com­mer­cial catch two years in a row? Is it co­in­ci­dence that the north­ern cod stock sud­denly be­came the en­abler for the in­dus­trial tran­si­tion from shrimp pro­cess­ing to cod pro­cess­ing?

If it is not co­in­ci­dence, it surely must be di­vine in­ter­ven­tion! Thanks to that di­vine in­ter­ven­tion cod has be­come our saviour.

I am not a deeply re­li­gious per­son but when speak­ing about saviours and di­vine in­ter­ven­tion it is never a good thing to for­get about the devil.

The three root causes I men­tioned at the be­gin­ning added up to po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence. I am con­vinced that po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence has been the devils in­flu­ence on our re­new­able fish­eries re­sources. If today’s saviour, cod, is go­ing to have a chance to con­tinue to re­cover and thrive we are ab­so­lutely, pos­i­tively go­ing to have to find a way to ex­or­cize the devil.

Harvey Jarvis Por­tu­gal Cove–St. Philip’s

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