III. World Fisheries in Decline

Until rather recently the oceans were commonly thought of as possessing vast potential for further exploitation.  In reality all of the significant productivity of the sea is restricted to the upper 100 meters or about 0.025% of the average depth.  The average density of life in the deep sea is low and it is slow growing and slow to replenish.  The major fisheries are all exploited at or beyond their maximum sustainable yield and large unexploited ones do not exist.  Catches are generally declining.  Seafood is more and more becoming high priced gourmet food and increasing price is tending to sustain effort in the face of declining yield.

Our planet and its resources are finite and we are beginning to encounter its limits.  With few exceptions, economists, business people and politicians universally subscribe to the belief that never ending economic and population growth are desirable for prosperity.  This belief bears no relation to what is actually happening in the real world. 

The United Nations, Human Development Report, ranks 162 countries
in terms of life expectancy, educational attainment and adjusted real income.  The top ten are:
     1 Norway 5-14*
     2 Australia 20-2.5
     3 Canada 31-3
     4 Sweden 9-20
     5 Belgium 10-337
     6 United States 288-30
     7 Iceland 0.3-2.6
     8 Netherlands 16-390
     9 Japan 127-321
   10 Finland 5-15
*The numbers following the country name are population in millions and population density per Km˛ ( from  World Gazetteer).
The US ranks high in per capita income, second only to Luxembourg. But it is only 12th in educational enrolment and 24th in life expectancy.

The Finfacts Survey by William M. Mercer† is also revealing.  This survey ranks overall quality of life for major cities around the world.  It is based on an evaluation of 39 quality of life criteria for each city including political, social, economic, and environmental factors; personal safety and health; education; transport; and other public services. It is conducted to assist multinational companies in assessing international hardship allowances for their expatriate workers. Here are the top ten:
     1. Zurich, Switzerland
     2. Vienna, Austria
     3. Vancouver Canada
     4. Sydney Australia
     5. Geneva Switzerland
     6. Frankfurt, Germany
     7. Auckland, New Zealand
     8. Copenhagen. Denmark
     9. Helsinki, Finland
   10. Bern, Switzerland
     The first U.S. city to enter the list is San Francisco at 18th place.
Mercer is one of the world's largest human resource consultancies, with some 12,500 employees in 37 countries world-wide. 

It is clear that neither economic prosperity nor quality of life have anything to do with population size or density.  If anything, the correlation is negative and if one were to include psycho-spiritual parameters in the evaluation it would undoubtedly be highly so. 

For more on this and other topics of current interest see the Weblog item on the Golden Dolphin website.

 Walter Starck