Comment author: casebash 13 August 2018 06:16:45AM 0 points [-]

I am similarly suspicious. Someone should look into this more.

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 13 August 2018 11:24:40AM 0 points [-]

I'm not sure how to look into this more. Note that the 1.17 billion figure is from the U.S. Goverment report so that should be dependable, at least for the lower bound. I think some more information could be gained by going to a baitshop, looking around and asking some questions (how many fish average person buys, is the industry on the decline, etc.). I myself can not do that because I'm not in the U.S.

Comment author: avacyn 11 August 2018 06:17:14PM 2 points [-]

I would upvote this twice if I could! I follow EAA stuff pretty closely and I haven't heard this discussed before. However, it seems like a highly important, neglected, and tractable cause area. The most exciting part in my mind is that progress has already started in some countries and states, meaning that it could be very tractable.

I'd love to see a more detailed analysis of the counterfactuals. For example, what percentage of bait fish will be replaced by artificial baits vs animals? If you used worms or other animals as bait, would you have to use more bait, or would it be a 1-1 replacement?

I'd also love to see some analysis about how existing laws came to exist. Who lobbied for these policies? Were they easy to pass, or were they controversial?

This is a great example of the utility of the EA forum - well researched and actionable. I'll do what I can to make sure this is on the radar of others in EAA.

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 11 August 2018 08:03:10PM *  2 points [-]

Thanks. I encountered the 6 billion figure by accident when doing research about fish farmed for food for ACE. I wonder if there are other areas like this where a huge number of animals are hurt that animal activists are unaware of.

I don’t have good answers to your questions, but I'm going to do a bit of a brain dump here and answer them to the best of my knowledge, in case someone would find it valuable.

what percentage of bait fish will be replaced by artificial baits vs animals? If you used worms or other animals as bait, would you have to use more bait, or would it be a 1-1 replacement?

Artificial baits seem to already be more popular. E.g. see http://www.anglersurvey.com/files/2012/10/AS3-1.png (“live bait” here means live baitfish, worms leeches, frogs, etc.). Although one text I read said that internet is biased towards artificials baits because they are used by people who take fishing more seriously (and therefore talk about it on internet more). So the survey might have a selection bias as well. I have a hunch that people who use baitfish would be more likely to switch to other types of life bait, rather than artificial bait. Also, if farming of live bait was banned, some would catch live batfish for themselves. That is probably better than farming though.

Before I read Peter Singer, I used to fish with my father. From experience, I can tell that if they switched to worms, many more worms and maggots would be used than baitfish. E.g. see the amounts in https://www.wormsdirectuk.co.uk/acatalog/dendrobaena.html. We would keep maggots in the fridge, sometimes would hook several of them and would buy more than needed just to be safe. I might write a separate article about worms and maggots as bait some time later. I do think that they suffer less (both, because they live shorter lives before being used, and they are less sentient). But it could be that they are very stressed in those containers. So yes, it’s possible that counterfactual is even worse.

By the way, maybe some questions like this can be answered by just going to a nearby fishing or bait store and asking some questions. E.g. how many fish and how many worms do people usually buy? I wish I could’ve done that while writing this, but I don’t live in the U.S.

I'd also love to see some analysis about how existing laws came to exist. Who lobbied for these policies? Were they easy to pass, or were they controversial?

Some of the links that I put in the article partly answer this question, especially for Scotland. It seems that these laws are always controversial, fishermen don’t want restrictions and people who care about ecology want them. E.g. see this 90 page risk report about ecological risks of importing one species of baitfish from Arkansas to Minnesota- https://files.dnr.state.mn.us/aboutdnr/reports/legislative/2018-minnow-import-report.pdf The length tells me that it is an important issue for some people. In North America, a lot of rules were implemented after an outbreak of viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) in Great Lakes and some other waters in 2005-06. Some details about regulation changes can be seen at this website https://www.outdoornews.com/search/baitfish+rule It seems that regulations are always done at state level and institutions like “Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board” are responsible for them.

Comment author: LewisBollard 09 August 2018 11:59:23PM 18 points [-]

Thanks for looking into this Saulius! I'd seen a few things re baitfish and it has been on my list to look more into for a while. But this will raise its priority -- and make my task easier by providing a lot of the underlying sources. I'll discuss this with some of the farm animal groups to see if they have ideas. In the meantime, let me know if you find more info.

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 10 August 2018 10:39:19AM 6 points [-]

If there is some kind of info that you need, let me know. I'd be eager to help and I may know where to find it (because I spent some time reading about the subject).

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 09 August 2018 01:54:43PM 2 points [-]

Possible. It could be that the industry inflates the numbers because they want to seem bigger than they are. Note that baitfish is not even the most popular type of bait.

One thing to consider though is how many baitfish people take per fishing trip. After a brief search, I haven't found exact numbers but this website is advising:

Request a discount when purchasing in bulk. Injured minnows may be sold at a discounted rate, but fish that are injured rarely thrive after a change in environment. Instead, request a free dozen for every 10 dozen that you purchase.

So I imagine that fishermen who do buy baitfish, buy a lot of it. I also read that they often don't use them all and throw the rest into a lake, even though that causes ecological issues and everyone is asking fishermen not to do it.

In general, I understand your intuition and I will probably think about this more later.

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 09 August 2018 03:44:12PM 1 point [-]

in https://www.iceshanty.com/ice_fishing/index.php?topic=246812.0 an angler asks in a forum how many minnows should she buy for her fishing trip. The most common answer is 2-3 dozens.

Comment author: LKor 09 August 2018 01:00:32PM *  2 points [-]

Ugg.. something smells fishy here.. : ) The numbers seem completely outlandish.. 1 - 10 billion for recreational fishing in the US? There are, what.. 300 - 500 million total population in the US, I believe? Even assuming 10% are into fishing, would they consume 1 billion bait fish?

I'm extremely skeptical of this and strongly inclined to make a bet against this info being accurate. Currently considering what exactly I'd be willing to put money down against. My intuition is that these figures might be off by a factor of ten or more.

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 09 August 2018 01:54:43PM 2 points [-]

Possible. It could be that the industry inflates the numbers because they want to seem bigger than they are. Note that baitfish is not even the most popular type of bait.

One thing to consider though is how many baitfish people take per fishing trip. After a brief search, I haven't found exact numbers but this website is advising:

Request a discount when purchasing in bulk. Injured minnows may be sold at a discounted rate, but fish that are injured rarely thrive after a change in environment. Instead, request a free dozen for every 10 dozen that you purchase.

So I imagine that fishermen who do buy baitfish, buy a lot of it. I also read that they often don't use them all and throw the rest into a lake, even though that causes ecological issues and everyone is asking fishermen not to do it.

In general, I understand your intuition and I will probably think about this more later.

Comment author: jayquigley 08 August 2018 10:23:49PM 3 points [-]

Amazing idea! I'll be thinking and talking more about this, including with the animal-issue lobbying organizations I've worked with here in the US and California.

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 09 August 2018 10:07:35AM 0 points [-]

great, please tell how it goes!

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 08 August 2018 11:40:12PM 2 points [-]

I've just noticed that my text looks weird on mobile phone. I wrote it in google docs and pasted to EA forum. Is there any quick way to fix it? In case anyone has trouble reading it, you can also read it here.

Comment author: Mojmir 24 July 2018 11:31:54AM 0 points [-]

Those are really useful comments, thanks. I wonder how did the event go?

Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 24 July 2018 12:09:16PM *  0 points [-]

It went well, I asked ~8 people for feedback and it was all positive, almost everyone said that they liked it better than a regular social. One person said that it made them less socially anxious than regular socials. I think we'll organise these every other month or something like that (in addition to socials).

We first quickly presented what topics each of us would most want to talk about, then we paired people up, based on that (though a lot of pairings were random). Each person had three one on ones and then we all had a picnic. I'm not sure how well it would work if the weather was less nice and we couldn't do it in a park (or a building with many breakout rooms like at the EA weekend).

In response to Open Thread #40
Comment author: RandomEA 12 July 2018 04:03:49PM 4 points [-]

Should EAs work on reducing food waste?

According to USDA statistics, a significant percent of food purchased by consumers goes uneaten (15% of chicken, 35% of turkey, 20% of beef, 29% of pork, and 23% of the edible portion of eggs). If consumers wasted less food, they would purchase less meat/eggs/dairy, which would lead to fewer animals suffering on factory farms.

One factor that could be driving food waste is confusing date labeling. For example, an egg container may have a 'Sell By' date meant to help retailers manage their inventory, but a consumer who sees the label and date some time after purchasing might throw the eggs away thinking they are no longer safe to eat. One possible solution is a federal labeling law that limits producers to listing the freshness date and the expiration date (and requires them to use specific easy to understand phrases when listing either). However, there are several reasons that working towards such a law may be a bad use of resources. First, legal change may be unnecessary as it appears the food industry may voluntarily adopt such a system. Second, it's unclear how much labeling reform reduces food waste (I was unable to find any studies in my brief search). Third, it may be that the primary benefits of reducing animal product consumption are the long term effects, in which case reductions in consumption driven by factors other than concern for animals may be much less impactful. Of course, there may also be other ways to reduce food waste (to which the first two concerns would not apply).

In response to comment by RandomEA on Open Thread #40
Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 17 July 2018 12:02:27AM *  1 point [-]

Interesting. It's strange that I've never heard anyone talking about decreasing animal suffering by decreasing food waste before. I wonder if anyone investigated such possibilities, I couldn’t find anything by googling. I happened to talk with an ACE researcher today and he didn’t know about any such research either. I think it's possible that there are some effective interventions in this area. Because there are many ways to reduce waste. For example:

  • Vacuum-packaging meat products. They can extended the life of some products by up to 9 days when compared to conventional packaging.
  • Getting rid of ‘buy one get one free’ promotions at groceries
  • Helping with redistribution of surplus food

It can be complicated though. For example, it's possible some people don’t by eggs because they look at the “Sell by” date and think that they will expire soon.

I wonder what could be next steps to increase the probability that someone looks into this. It could be added to http://effectivethesis.com/ but that would have a low probability of changing anything. EA Animal Welfare Fund may want to fund such research if there was someone to do it, but a more concrete topic would be needed.

In response to Open Thread #40
Comment author: Milan_Griffes 10 July 2018 03:15:37PM *  6 points [-]

Why I'm skeptical of cost-effectiveness analysis

Reposting as comment because mods told me this wasn't thorough enough to be a post.

Briefly:

  • The entire course of the future matters (more)
  • Present-day interventions will bear on the entire course of the future, out to the far future
  • The effects of present-day interventions on far-future outcomes are very hard to predict
  • Any model of an intervention's effectiveness that doesn't include far-future effects isn't taking into account the bulk of the effects of the intervention
  • Any model that includes far-future effects isn't believable because these effects are very difficult to predict accurately
Comment author: saulius  (EA Profile) 15 July 2018 11:15:37AM 0 points [-]

I wanted to ask what kind of conclusions this line of reasoning leads you to make. But am I right to think that this is a very short summary of your series of posts exploring consequentialist cluelessness (http://effective-altruism.com/ea/1hh/what_consequences/)? In that case the answer is in the last post of the series, right?

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