A few interesting business practices happening in the fishing industry.
Watson’s concerns about the market for seafood driving the ocean’s troubles are no joke. And the health of the commercial fishing industry–especially on the East Coast–is getting a lot more difficult.
“In the ’80s I predicted the collapse of the cod fisheries in the East Coast and Canada,” says Watson. “All of the experts working for the government said that was impossible. But it happened in 1992. So all over the world these fisheries are collapsing, even though the experts say that’s not going to happen, because the people paying the experts don’t want to quit. What I call it is the economics of extinction. That is, people know these species are going extinct, but they’re going to make the maximum amount of money off of them before they do. For instance, one blue fin tuna on the Japanese market is worth about $50,000 to $75,000. With that kind of price on its head, its days are numbered. We’ve removed about 90 percent of them from the ocean. So the Japanese this year said they have to cut back. But they refuse to do it because there’s money to be made by driving the species to extinction. As the numbers are diminished, the prices go up. That’s why we have a $75,000 fish.”
The commercial fishing industry stores huge amounts of frozen fish, and continue to drive prices up.
“Mistubishi, for example, has a 15-year supply of blue fin frozen in their warehouse,” says Watson. “They could stop fishing tomorrow and keep up that supply for the next decade. But they won’t do it because if they do and the numbers of the fish begins to rise in the oceans, that will diminish the cost or the value of them in the warehouses. The more diminished they are, the higher the value. If they go extinct, you have a priceless commodity, and you can set your own price. These companies will simply reinvest that profit into other things. They don’t care about the fishery. We don’t have real fisherman anymore–what we have are corporations that have taken this over. They don’t care about the future.”