Overfishing is wiping out commercial fisheries, and climate change is making certain fish species smaller. But Daniel Pauly says the world can still save endangered fisheries. Pauly is called “the ocean’s whistleblower” in a new biography, for good reason. The French-born marine biologist, who teaches at the University of British Columbia, spent much of the past quarter-century documenting the swift decline of fish within the seas. Now he says that warming waters are depleting the oceans of oxygen that fish need to grow to their full stature.

In an interview with Scientific American, Pauly addresses whether fisheries are doomed or if there is still hope for sustaining them. He speaks about how his early experiences working in Southeast Asia convinced him that fisheries sciencehad become a captive of the fishing industry, promoting industrial methods such as bottom trawling that devastated underwater ecosystems and threatened the livelihoods of small-scale artisanal fishers.

Pauly is credited with helping to develop a new kind of science, one that pays more attention to the ocean’s ecology and what fish need to thrive. He coined the term “shifting baseline syndrome” to describe how scientists and others forget the biological abundance of earlier times—thinking that today’s meager fisheries are somehow the norm. This “collective amnesia,” as he describes it, has led researchers and regulators to routinely misjudge the magnitude of the ecological…

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