Is the Stability/Sustainability worth it?


Although we learned to introduce ourselves in first year Japanese (at the basic level) and then again in second year using Keigo, today’s morning was dedicated to further enriching our self-introductions and preparing our answers for questions related to our interest and research project, specifically the questions of WHY?


Presenting the facts about oneself isn’t challenging when compared to answering questions of WHY? We need to get our stories straight by the time we meet the first Sensei this coming week! or at least I do…

I have never really taken time to think about fisheries before. I’ve never really wondered how the fishing industry is regulated and managed, or even how the life of a fisherman might be. Today’s focus on fisheries sparked that curiosity.

According to Professor Olaf Ellers there are two prevalent themes:

1. The view of copying western culture after WWII (“playing catch-up”)

2. General appreciation and believe in Science…except in Fisheries.

Yesterday we discussed the importance of interdisciplinary approaches, so it came to me as a surprise to learn that biology is often excluded in the policy-making in fisheries. In fact, from today’s discussion, it almost seemed as if there is tension between the two groups of experts, the scientists and fishermen. While scientists try to establish a sense of insurance in the business by preventing overfishing and other harmful effects of harvesting fish, the fishermen try to establish a sense of immediate security and immediate profit, as they prioritize their daily living rather than future, which to a certain extent understandable. Fishermen need to pay the monthly bills this month, not in four years…

Regardless, the subject of sustainability is crucial for the future generations of not only fish, but also humans on earth. Professor Amy Johnson simply yet in detail manner explained the different modeling graphs used for policy-making. The general trend in fisheries tend to be that before modernization, fish are seen as an inexhaustible resource. After modernization, the use of technology peaks the fish landings and creates a prime example of overfishing. Regulation are then put in place to try to restore the fish population. However, several years after the the set regulation-the fishery crashes.

The most common model is that of a parabola shaped graph that is difficult to manage and use due to the need of accurate yet inaccessible information. My question is: why is this model still being used when Joan Roughgarden’s model was developed in 1996 to counterbalance the uncertainty of many of the factors? Although this may seem cynical, I think it is because Roughgarden’s model, although it provides security and stability for the coming years, it does not offer the maximum N (profit)… and so it seems undesirable.

With the need to make a living, the fishermen in the Tohoku area are still suffering due to the fourth disaster in 2011, “the rumor.” Radiation Stigma that dates back to the late 20th century, surrounds their fish, will they be able to experience the same level of success than before the disaster? What is the estimated time period to a full restoration of the Tohoku area fisheries?

Ironical Fun Fact: Areas affected my a natural man-made restoration (radiation/nuclear activity) tend to develop into oasis in which diversity of flora and fauna flourish.



“Nature is Good to Think With”

While today’s readings:
– The Problem with Purity by Richard White
-History and Biology in the Anthropocene by Julia A. Thomas
were curled up in a tight knot of ideas the night before, this morning they unraveled as the discussion took place.
Professor Matt Klingle led the discussion by presenting us with an action figure of Godzilla, and prompted the question: “Is this Nature?”
There isn’t a right or wrong answer because it all depends on which approach you decide to take. While Godzilla’s value or representing is that of an angered force of nature-we could argue its natural. But since its an action figure, an item one would not typically find naturally in nature-we can argue its not. But since the materials from which it is made are technically supplied by the earth-its natural. Which brings us to the problem of PURITY-There is no such thing; there is always going to be an exception. Nature and culture are deeply entangled and it is almost impossible to separate. The concept of nature or the natural is usually invoked in order to try to eliminate a bias or to eliminate responsibility  by stating “it is natural, and it JUST is.” Meaning, we tend to see nature as separate from us, humans. The discussion encouraged us to think not as nature vs humans, but as a hybrid world in which we influence each other through our agency, structure, and power.

Furthermore, we discussed the richness of an interdisciplinary approach between the Humanities and Sciences. As an Asian Studies major and pre-med student, this reading and discussion were encouraging to not only my project surrounding illness in Japanese culture, but to the rest of my Bowdoin Career. Overall, Today’s discussion was extremely engaging and thought provoking–Professor Klingle asked questions that seriously got our mind-wheels spinning and the chosen readings encouraged us to be open and critical about our findings and the pathways that lead to them.