A Run on the Banks


| March 26, 2001


A Run on the Banks, Colin Woodard, E Magazine
Once the supply was thought to be inexhaustible, cod now serves as a prime example of how greed and willful ignorance of basic ecology can destroy ecosystems and one of the world's greatest fisheries. Colin Woodard describes the decimation of the cod population of Newfoundland's Grand Banks in the environmental publication,E Magazine. For many years, Newfoundland's Burin peninsula housed the 'heart of the fish-processing business.' Technological advances such as freezers and onboard processing plants contributed to the destruction of cod populations across the world. Yet, the Canadian government completely dismissed the potential effects of harvesting fish 'many times faster than the ecosystem could replenish,' Woodard says. Like in other countries, the Canadian government endorsed the use of trawlers: large boats that damage the seafloor by dragging nets held to the seabed with 50- to 700-pound steel weights. No one knows whether or not the ecosystems will ever recover. Woodard writes, 'Most species take months or years to reestablish themselves, some take decades or centuries. None are given that much time.'
--Sara V. Buckwitz
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