Wars, Vikings and an Empty Donut Hole: The Great Collapse of North American Fishery

Friday seminar by Kevin M. Bailey  



A collision of events and policy decisions may create unintended consequences on natural resources. I describe one of the world’s largest fisheries collapses, that of Alaska pollock in the international zone of the Bering Sea, the so-called ‘Donut hole’ population. At its peak in 1983, this stock contained around 13 million tons of adults, representing about 3 fish for every person on Earth. By 1992 only 6 % remained; recently, a 2 week trawl survey in the central Bering Sea caught only 2 (yes, two) fish. Although not well-known, this collapse is among the most spectacular of the northern hemisphere, dwarfing those of the northern cod and California sardine; 20 billion fish disappeared. A number of factors transpiring in distant corners of the world and whose effects coincided in the Bering Sea, contributed to a stew of well-meaning policy actions to have unsavory consequences for this population.

Kevin McLean Bailey started his career as a marine scientist in 1974 after graduating from the University of California at Santa Barbara. His first assignment was on a Japanese crab fishing ship in the eastern Bering Sea for 4 months taking biological measurements on the catch, and then on a Japanese pollock factory trawler in the Bering Sea. After these experiences he proclaimed that he would change careers, but then ran out of money. He later obtained his PhD from the University of Washington. He is currently a Senior Scientist at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, where he has published over 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals and books. He is also an affiliate Professor at the University of Washington and in 2008 was awarded the Oscar Sette Award for outstanding lifetime achievement in marine fisheries by the American Fisheries Society.

Kevin M. Bailey
Alaska Fisheries Science Center
7600 Sand Point Way NE
Seattle, Washington 98115 

Published Feb. 3, 2012 3:35 PM