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Skunked: Crisis in New England Fisheries

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This case study takes up the matter of commercial fishing in the once flourishing fishing zones of Georges Bank in New England, Massachusetts. Over some time, cut-throat competition, gross commercialization of fishing rights, unethical fishing practices and , most critically overfishing in these waters caused a virtual extinction of the major species of fish population and over time, rendered large-scale fishing, unproductive and commercially unviable. In simple terms there were “too many fishers chasing too few fish.” (Skunked: Crisis in the New England fisheries, p.39).

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At one time, codfishes could be scooped up in baskets, but now they are even difficult to spot in the lucid waters. Lack of proper fishing plans, controls over its breeding and disease management, the crying need for proper fish farming and an overall lackadaisical approach by the stakeholders ensured that fishes did not last for long. All these need to be considered against the backdrop of major challenges and risks to lives and boats during stormy weather. Many boats and men ventured out at sea, never to return. The region, teeming with a plethora of marine life and excited fishermen now resembled a ghost town. In their greed for money and a good life, little did the naïve fishermen realize that new breeding and fishing grounds needed to be explored, natural resources needed to be protected and finally the fish population also needed to be nurtured in order that long-term benefits could accrue.

This is a tragic situation because fishing is not a business for most people but a way of living and in more senses than one, the fishermen are presiding over their own extermination and destruction. Large scale and unethical practices while fishing, using heavy-duty trawlers that caused damages to marine life and also caused environmental hazards ensured that fishing population dwindled until a state was reached when it became uneconomic for fishing to be conducted. All these were all the more painful since Georges Bank was considered one of the best fishing resources in the locality.

However, despite the threats of over-fishing in these zones, the plankton food needed for fish larvae was abundant, and the Georges Bank was fertile and productive due to presence of rich nutrients in water, and abundant sunlight that nourished the tiny plants that provided food for marine life. Codfish business was a major business during this time and contributed significantly to European business, prior to the Industrial Revolution. But unfortunately overfishing on a massive scale brought down many fish populations.

“The fisherfolk today are a dispirited lot. They view themselves as the last leaders of a heroic life, the last independents in a corporate country, the last real entrepreneurs, mustering intelligence, tradition, and courage to wrest a living from the merciless sea.” (Skunked: Crisis in the New England fisheries, p.52). It could be seen that modern technology could be enforced for saving Georges Bank. Fish farming could be taken up, licenses could be issued for controlled fishing in their regions and controls over the quantum and demarcation of fishing areas could be instituted. Moreover, it should be ensured that there is harmony between the fishermen, the sentient fish population and underwater living organisms, and the non-sentient natural environment. Only when these three aspects are in total harmony and unison could it be possible for humans to derive long-term benefits from Georges Bank.


Skunked: Crisis in the New England fisheries: Too many boats chasing too few fish. (n.d.).

Skunked: Crisis in the New England fisheries: The sadness of it all. (n.d.).

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StudyCorgi. (2021, October 29). Skunked: Crisis in New England Fisheries. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2021, October 29). Skunked: Crisis in New England Fisheries.

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"Skunked: Crisis in New England Fisheries." StudyCorgi, 29 Oct. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Skunked: Crisis in New England Fisheries." October 29, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Skunked: Crisis in New England Fisheries." October 29, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Skunked: Crisis in New England Fisheries." October 29, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Skunked: Crisis in New England Fisheries'. 29 October.

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