Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. ~Phil Donahue
Another McKinsey Quarterly came across my computer screen the other day and it seems to me that the great analytical and analysis skills of McKinsey&Co completely miss the point, again. This time the report, Fishing for Sustainability, was on the self-inflicted deteriorating condition of the global commercial fishing industry, a subject close to this former marine biologist’s heart.
Here’s a quote from the article:
As overfishing destabilizes marine ecosystems around the world, fisheries are finding themselves in rough waters. Data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) indicate that 30 percent of all fish stocks are now overexploited (beyond their maximum sustainable limits) and an additional 50 percent are fully exploited (at or close to those limits).
Their erosion and eventual collapse would pose an economic threat not only to fishers but also to everyone else whose livelihood depends on fisheries, which (according to the FAO) provide employment for 180 million people and account for a significant part of the animal protein consumed globally, particularly in developing countries. With 2008 exports that some experts estimate at more than $85 billion, fish and fishery products rank among the most widely traded agricultural commodities in the world, in a value chain the FAO says may generate $500 billion a year.
Lots of figures and consulting speak (value chain, 30% overexploited, 50% fully exploited, $85 billion in fish products, etc.) and obviously a focus on the financial state of the commercial fishing industry.
Good stuff and useful data in this report, but I do feel strongly that it misses the point, since the article describes the various McKinsey studies and computer models being developed to understand what constitutes sustainable fishing pressure. Hey everyone, wake up, we don’t need another study, not now at least. We need action on a global scale. Fish stocks are collapsing. That’s not a theory, it’s a fact. Unless the world acts now, the great McKinsey studies will be academic and too late, the oceans will be depleted.
Consider the decline and near decimation of the Cod stocks in the North Atlantic. There was good data on catches for years, the trends were there. Then the data showed a huge spike due to the increased number of countries and fleets taking cod. Then because the catch was decreasing they started fishing deeper for brood stocks. Any biologist will tell you that the taking of brood stock is the certain beginning of a collapse.
A study or computer model wasn’t needed. What was needed was a commitment on the part of the fishing industry and their respective governments not to commit suicide by gross overfishing. To put their industry and their children’s livelihoods before this quarter’s profit and loss statement.
When an individual commits suicide it is a tragedy for the family and a small circle of friends. When a commercial industry, like fishing or forestry, commits suicide it impacts all of us, in multiple ways. For commercial fishing it’s not just the loss of jobs for fishing families, but whole economic regions as well as an entire ecosystem. The consequences will be even worse if the commercial logging industry in the tropics continues on its suicidal course.
Orri Vigfusson and those who helped him start the North Atlantic Salmon Fund didn’t need a McKinsey computer model or data analysis exercise to understand that something had to be done, now, about commercial overfishing of salmon. They didn’t wait, they acted with compelling logic and a workable solution.
I wish McKinsey&Co would turn its talents towards coming up with workable solutions instead of more studies and computer models. I would like my grandchildren to swim in an ocean full of fish and life.
Tight Lines . . .
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