Dalhousie Law Journal


Minister of Fisheries, Canada, northern cod, fishery, Atlantic Canada, commercial extinction, exploitation


Although the collapse of Atlantic Canada's northern cod fishery may have been unexpected in terms of its rapidity, it is not an isolated or inexplicable event. This paper reviews the major factors affecting the cod fishery crisis (and other natural resource disasters of the 20th century) including: (1) the rapid development of technologies of resource exploitation; (2) the inadequacy of international measures to conserve and regulate the fishery; (3) limitations on scientific capabilities to manage the fishery; and (4) a cultural climate that emphasized economic growth above other values. The paper assesses the prospects for recovery of the fishery in the context of a comparison with the "Dust Bowl" disaster that afflicted farmers in the North American Plains region in the 1930s.