U.S. Fisheries And The Environment: An Alternative View

1178 words - 5 pages

The issues surrounding the sustainability of current fisheries cannot only be viewed through the lens of the environmentalist. While science clearly indicates that modifications to current commercial fishing practices must be made, to do so without thoughtful consideration to the impact of such modifications on human communities, cultures and livelihood is amiss. For environmental groups to take swipes at the U.S. fishing industry en mass (without making distinctions in commercial vs. hook and line fishermen) while having no personal stake in it may work in passionate public service announcements, brochures and news releases. (AP Wire, "Boycott of Catch from Environmentally Damaging Fisheries Sought," May 5, 2004.) However, when an environmental group informs consumers that cod stocks have been over fished, and pleads with the consumer to boycott all cod, it is dangerously close to perpetrating a fraud against the public. Atlantic cod was over fished by huge internationally-owned factory trawlers that had tremendous impact on essential fish habitats. The implications of such announcements by environmental groups penalizes both the commercial fisherman and the hook and line fisherman. In short, the environmental group has acted as both judge and jury to the detriment of the family hook and line cod fisherman who for generations has fished responsibly until trawlers, not uncommonly subsidized by a sovereign nation, were allowed to devastate cod stocks.Method and area of capture need to be taken into account when searching for sustainability. Well-managed stocks of a worldwide species are lumped into the same category as the poorly managed stocks; for example the swordfish boycott of 1998 made no distinction between the healthy Pacific and the decimated Atlantic stocks. Seldom is method of capture differentiated: hook and line Atlantic cod fishermen were affectively being punished for what trawling was responsible for.Another example of group punishment on the part of environmental groups concerns west coast salmon. These stocks have been listed as endangered and are therefore severely restricted, predominately due to land issue mismanagement by cattle, agriculture, timber, power and municipal water interests. Again, it is unfair to punish the fishermen who for the most part have worked long and hard to save these salmon runs. The Sacramento River basin has experienced substantial success, due in part to the restoration work done by fishermen and citizens groups such as Salmon Unlimited and the California Advisory Committee on Salmon. It is interesting to note that without the help of these organizations who lobbied fairly for responsible fishing to continue in many of California's rivers and streams, it is conceivable that the demise of the wild salmon runs would be greatly accelerated.With globalization becoming more and more a reality, government ineptitude and dishonesty continue to allow our natural resources to be abused and sold off at a...

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