The Environment Versus the Economy: Which is More Important During a Recession?

June 1, 2009

This is a blue crab. The color is quite pretty, it tastes great, and, like many animals, its habitat is in danger.

This is a blue crab. The color is quite pretty, it tastes great, and, like many animals, its habitat is in danger.

Recently, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission determined they were going to continue preventing fishermen from winter dredging. Winter dredging is a traditional method of catching crabs in which fishermen drag a net along the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay to gather hibernating crabs. However, Steve Szkotak of the Associated Press recently reported that biologists estimate anywhere between 25% to 50% of the crab catch will be killed in this dredging process. Stopping the dredging could be important in protecting the crab population because many of these crabs are pregnant. On the other hand, the fishing restriction will result in over 50 boats not going out to work. This could increase the local unemployment rates.

Unfortunately, this story—in which the jobs of hard working people are up against the protection of the irreplaceable natural environment—is an old one for sociologists. Which should take priority and why? Would you like to discuss this issue? If so, post a reply to one of the discussion topics below:

1. Who do you think should have the responsibility of protecting the environment—the local community, the state, or the federal government? Look at your response and explain the advantages and disadvantages of your choice.

2. Which do you think is more important in the short-term: avoiding the social problems of high unemployment or the needs of the environment? Why? List a few issues you associate with both problems. Does taking a long-term perspective of the problem change your list? Why?

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  1. In short term, it is better to the about the unemployment rate. It is a quick solution to the people who need the money right now. However, if we are to do that, we will pay for it later.

  2. It should be a joint effort by the state and the federal government. The state government has more knowledge of the demographics of the state that they live within. They would also be able to more closely regulate the legislation that was placed on the activity. The federal government normally does not fund things that they do not have a hand in on. Im for certain that the federal government funds the crabbing industry. It is smart to have both agencies working to help the people against harsh environmental regulations that put them out of work and to also help preserve the crab population so that we dont destroy another eco system.

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