Man just isn’t quite as smart as we think. Sure, we create technology to save all sorts of time and energy, but what is the ultimate impact? I remember back when computers in the workplace promised to save us all so much time that we'd be able to work four-day weeks! Yeah... right. Our productivity did skyrocket and then employers simply made a "productivity grab." Now we work more hours than ever!

I question whether all technology benefits us, or should in some cases, old school methods be better employed? A recent article in National Fisherman showcased some enterprising tuna boats fishing the Hawaiian Islands using handlines. They are doing quite well. Historically, the old tuna boats with the multiple bamboo rods did extremely well also. Both methods keep the tuna resource at sustainable levels. Introduce purse seines and other factory fishing methods and suddenly we’re taking fish before they ever get a chance to spawn. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to easily understand what less-than-zero population growth portends.

Cod fishing in New England dates back to before the Vikings visited our shores. Certainly long before Columbus "discovered" America (much to the surprise of the native Americans already living here). You can read a truly fascinating book called COD: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky for the complete story on how it established the European mercantile system.

Back then, the northeast cod fishery was all hook and line. Historical statistics show that the resource remained extremely healthy despite the fact that more cod were harvested back then than we can manage to find today with all our modern methods.

Don’t get me wrong. I certainly believe in progress. But sometimes, the old ways prove themselves better and should perhaps be readopted.                                                                --DTC




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    Dean Travis Clarke is a licensed captain, author and has spent more than a quarter century as a highly respected marine journalist.

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    March 2013