The Tragedy of the Commodity: Oceans, Fisheries, and Aquaculture (Nature, Society, and Culture)

The Tragedy of the Commodity: Oceans, Fisheries, and Aquaculture (Nature, Society, and Culture)

Stefano B. Longo, Rebecca Clausen, Brett Clark

Language: English

Pages: 274

ISBN: 0813565774

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Although humans have long depended on oceans and aquatic ecosystems for sustenance and trade, only recently has human influence on these resources dramatically increased, transforming and undermining oceanic environments throughout the world. Marine ecosystems are in a crisis that is global in scope, rapid in pace, and colossal in scale. In The Tragedy of the Commodity, sociologists Stefano B. Longo, Rebecca Clausen, and Brett Clark explore the role human influence plays in this crisis, highlighting the social and economic forces that are at the heart of this looming ecological problem.
In a critique of the classic theory “the tragedy of the commons” by ecologist Garrett Hardin, the authors move beyond simplistic explanations—such as unrestrained self-interest or population growth—to argue that it is the commodification of aquatic resources that leads to the depletion of fisheries and the development of environmentally suspect means of aquaculture. To illustrate this argument, the book features two fascinating case studies—the thousand-year history of the bluefin tuna fishery in the Mediterranean and the massive Pacific salmon fishery. Longo, Clausen, and Clark describe how new fishing technologies, transformations in ships and storage capacities, and the expansion of seafood markets combined to alter radically and permanently these crucial ecosystems. In doing so, the authors underscore how the particular organization of social production contributes to ecological degradation and an increase in the pressures placed upon the ocean. The authors highlight the historical, political, economic, and cultural forces that shape how we interact with the larger biophysical world.
A path-breaking analysis of overfishing, The Tragedy of the Commodity yields insight into issues such as deforestation, biodiversity loss, pollution, and climate change.





















x Technology. The IPAT approach does not “readily allow for non-­monotonic or non-­proportional effects from the driving effects,” whereas the STIRPAT approach can be implemented to assess the stochastic impacts by regression on the same measures.28 Additional social, political, and cultural variables, if theoretically relevant, can be incorporated into this model. This reformulated model has been used for hypothesis testing and is applicable at any spatial scale. Human ecologists using this

served as signs of bluefin moving into or toward the trap. Thus the tonnaroti, as a participant in this research stated, “read the signals of nature.” The manner of fishing required a complex understanding of the species and long periods of observation and interaction that resulted in strong bonds to the bluefin tuna and their habitat. A culture of reverence and appreciation for the benefits that bluefin tuna brought to the communities arose around the tonnara. Before the fishing season

determination to develop bluefin tuna systems of aquaculture testifies to its potential value as a global commodity. The challenges associated with large-­scale domestication have been steep, and even with numerous advancements in scientific knowledge and technology regarding the domestication of other species, commercial bluefin tuna aquaculture still faces numerous difficulties. Yet, tremendous resources of time and money, much of this originating from public sources, have been invested into

that area.36 From Salmon Fisheries to Farms  • 115 The Decline of Wild Salmon on the Pacific Coast of North America Pacific wild salmon now represent a small fraction of their historic population size in every region except Alaska. Salmon decline began in the late 1800s and continued on throughout the 1900s. At the end of the twentieth century, Pacific salmon were listed as endangered or threatened in thirty-­ four evolutionarily significant units along the coasts of California, Oregon, and

monopolize resources and attach exchange value to items. Scarcity in markets increases exchange value. Under this system, private riches could easily be acquired at the expense of public wealth. Given such economic arrangements, nature and its ecological services are not treated as wealth. They are deemed “free gifts” from the standpoint of capitalist accounting.77 The commodification of everything is central to the general contradiction between use value and exchange value. It is part of the

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