POINTS OF VIEW
A cover story: ®sheries may drive stocks to
TONY J. PITCHER
Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada. E-mail: tpitcher@®sheries.com
The cover of the 1993 reprint of Beverton and Holt's book bears a diagram, its
signi®cance previously unrecognized, that expresses extinction due to ®shing. This paper
traces the concept to self-regenerating yield models in their 1957 book, its numerical
development therein far in advance of its reinvention 30 years later. Local extinction
constitutes a critical impact of ®sheries on aquatic ecosystems that has been too often
downplayed by ®sheries science.
Keywords: extinction, ®sheries, ®sheries yield models, population dynamics
Authors agonize over what to put on the cover of their books. Indeed, market research
shows that the cover picture is important in a purchase. But it is not clear that the cover
has any purpose much after that, except as a search image with which to locate the book
in the detritus that litters most academics' desks. Is all that angst worth it? Well ± it
might be if there were a hidden message.
Peter Brueghel the Elder's 1556 engraving `The Big Fish Eat the Little Fish' was on
the cover of my ®rst book (Pitcher and Hart, 1982), giving the not-so-hidden message
that ®sheries needed to consider trophic relationships. (Our book opened with trophic
relationships, but unfortunately we failed to integrate them quantitatively with ®sheries
models.) The cover of Reinventing Fisheries Management, a recent book edited by
Tony Pitcher, Daniel Pauly and Paul Hart (Pitcher et al., 1998), bears drawings of
historical and modern ®shing vessels, linked by a hidden message in the form of a line
that ramps down from the Pleistocene at top left to the present day and choices for the
future at bottom right.
Even more effective are messages that turn out to be not what they seem at ®rst
glance. We humans develop special attachments to problems we have solved ourselves.
For example, the Su®s knew how allegiance could be fostered by requiring the novice
to break a simple symbolic code; stories of Nasruddin and his donkey have hidden
esoteric meaning that initiates learn to reveal (Shah, 1964).
Most people who look at the cover diagram on the 1993 reprint of Beverton and
Holt's 1957 classic volume (known as the `bible'; Pitcher, 1996), see a set of `yield-per-
recruit curves' because that's what Beverton and Holt became famous for (against their
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 8, 367±370 (1998)
0960±3166 # 1998 Chapman & Hall