NG Explorer’s Letter to The New York Times

By Enric Sala, NG Ocean Fellow

The following post was originally published as a letter to the editor in The New York Times, April 20, 2011.

In “Let Us Eat Fish” (Op-Ed, April 15), Ray Hilborn writes that studies showing a worldwide decline in fish stocks are exaggerated and that most fish stocks are stable.

A patient in critical condition can also be stable. We reached “peak fish” in the late 1980s despite the continuous expansion of fishing grounds, and fishermen are losing their jobs because of the overexploitation of stocks.

The spectacular recovery of fish inside marine reserves highlights the declines elsewhere. I have seen the decline in fish abundance myself while diving for 25 years worldwide.

Fisheries that are well managed can rebound, but these are still only a small percentage of fisheries worldwide. Let’s replicate the few success stories and improve the toolkit for managing fisheries to rebuild fish stocks and provide jobs and food security. But we should not use a few successful examples to pretend that everything is fine.

Washington, April 17, 2011


Learn more about marine protected areas.

See photos from Enric Sala’s diving expedition to the Cocos Islands.

Watch as Enric Sala and a team of scientists spend six weeks exploring the pristine waters of the southern Line Islands in the South Pacific:


Meet the Author
Marine ecologist Dr. Enric Sala is a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence who combines science, exploration and media to help restore marine life. Sala’s scientific publications are used for conservation efforts such as the creation of marine protected areas. 2005 Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, 2006 Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, 2008 Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum.