Monday, February 25, 2008

Fishing for Answers

A University of British Columbia Professor won a $150,000 three-year fellowship to document financial factors contributing to unsustainable commercial fishing around the world.

Each dam on the Rogue River is estimated to cost 20% of the run in lost fingerlings. If this derelict was taken out, research indicates a potential, potential increase of 60,000 king salmon for an economic impact of $12,000,000 a year.

"With the award, Sumaila will create databases that detail the cost and ecological impact of commercial fishing that will form the basis for models to document the massive fiscal and environmental waste being caused by poor management of global ocean resources."

This kind of research goes in one ear of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council and right out the other. Take the dumping overboard of 140,000 plus(reported) king salmon in the Bering Sea alone. Untold numbers of chum salmon and also Gulf of Alaska king salmon not-withstanding. I'm sure the Canadians on the Yukon would throttle a Bering Sea trawler if he could get his hands on one after not getting any kings last year. And after thousands of years of getting all they wanted. Looks to me like the trawl fisheries from Neah Bay, WA to Bristol Bay, AK are purloining the brood stock of king salmon. Or is it global warming, or maybe UFOs. You can't be sure, so no sense getting excited.

Is what we have going on here is the War of the Worlds of Fish Users; the couple of corporate behemoths that are tightening their grip on total control of the fisheries, and advocates that have little or no economic stake. Assisting the consolidation are a few Congressmen and the apathy of fishermen and the public. This blurb from the East might give some impetus to stopping wasteful fishing practices. (I'm not talking about sustainable commercial trolling at all here.)

"Decades ago, one argument that ended commercial Atlantic-salmon fishing in some Canadian provinces involved an economic angle. In one province, for every $1 a commercially caught Atlantic salmon generated into the economy, sports fishing for this lordly species produced $19. It was a no-brainer to eliminate commercial fishing. As with Atlantics, sports fishing for stripers provides more revenues per fish than does commercial fishing." Hence, Pres. Bush's decree this winter.

Here's another blurb from California: "The long-term goals include involving fishermen in fisheries research and management, ensuring the sustainability of lobster populations, and maintaining working harbors. In addition, CALobster , is building an education program to train graduate students in community-based fisheries management. The community includes fishermen, scientists, managers, environmental groups, and general public."

Now that sounds like a plan. Especially the part about involving the public. After all, they need this clean, nutritious source of protein and not the translucent, maybe even glows in the dark, stagnant-pond-raised shrimp they are trying to feed us now. China is getting more of our clean, wild seafood and we, their toxic farm raised stuff, all in the name of tax avoidance by the marketers/processors.

Speaking of the public, here's an article that is one view of the public's feelings about the fishery resources. The overall vast majority of people in this country really think fish is smelly and and don't have any clue about populations of fish species. Not that a load of advertising can't change that, but at the moment fish managers and corporate interests are taking advantage of the apathy. In this "fishing game" will the real fish manager please stand up?

Down in this Southern Oregon part of the world, the local fish creek, a main tributary of the Rogue River, is siphoned off to water vast pastures just for horses. How you gonna fight that when there is a life-sized plastic horse on the top of a main-street store, and the hardware store sells cowboy gear and silver belt buckles. It could be a great king salmon spawning stream. In the fall I always report seeing king salmon ramming their heads into the Irrigation District dam, then they pull it for the winter.

Why am I the one to report this when there are over 100,000 people in the area? Ask yourself again, does the family fisherman stand a snow-ball's chances without some help?

Homework assignments: Check out the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act. And why did John McCain not vote on the 17 environmental bills in Congress in 2007, or the one to revoke the tax credits to oil companies? That one didn't pass by one vote. Why too, did Dr. Balsinger, the new golden boy of the National Marine Fisheries Service, write that surface sensing of sea-floor habitat trumps actual video footage of the sea-floor? You can stop wringing hands over declining fish stocks and start looking at some necks to wring. Just kidding of course, go back to hand wringing.