A Run on the Banks

A Run on the Banks, Colin Woodard, E

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
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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