Daniel Pauly is a professor at the Fisheries Centre of the University of British Columbia. Since 1999, he has been principal investigator of the Sea Around Us Project, devoted to documenting and mitigating the impact of fisheries on the world’s marine ecosystems.

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A flurry of articles in recent years shows that loss of knowledge about the past may have contributed to an acceptance of other losses, such as declines in biodiversity. I first identified this form of collective amnesia in a 1995 article describing how fisheries biologists assess changes in biomass abundance. Every generation begins its …

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