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Thursday, 11 February 2010

One more thing to crab about

This is so typical of the way governments respond to simple problems in the real world.

The Russian fishing industry, largely responsible for the Western Nations making their continental waters off limits to foreign fishing boats, got the brilliant idea way back in 1961 of introducing King Crabs to the Barents Sea. For several decades, it didn't appear that the experiment had worked. Then, suddenly the Northern Atlantic appeared overrun with the critters, ironically just as they appeared close to commercial extinction in their home waters of the Bering Sea on Russia's other coast.

The solution was all too typical of the government: the respective nations on both sides of Russia slapped heavy restrictions on their own fleets, while Russian fishermen proceeded to flood the world markets with crabs caught in their own newly expanded territorial waters.

While this action barely saved the King Crab in the Bering Sea--the quota was filled one season in only four days of frantic fishing--it did little to contain the explosive growth of the King Crab in the Barents Sea. Grudgingly, the governments raised the quota year by year--but, maddeningly, in both oceans. This, despite the clear evidence that the crabs were nearly extinct in one ocean, but a burgeoning invasive species in the other.

And note this--the Atlantic population had been assumed extinct for at least 15 years when they suddenly appeared out of nowhere, in numbers far more than the fisherman could initially handle. And they've already made it more than halfway to the North Pole, surviving even under the ice cap.

Humans only think they have the power to raise a species up, or put it down.

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