Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Thursday, 21 August 2008
An article this week on the decline of shark populations is decidedly dour, which may well be justified in terms of the raw numbers.
However, as usual, the blame is squarely placed on the shoulders of fishermen.
To be fair, fishermen (both commercial and recreational) have taken lots of sharks in recent decades, but what this report omits is the fact that the federal government (which is now being praised for restricting shark landings) was promoting shark fishing as an underutilized species and handing out permits like candy on Halloween.
"Tired of not being able to fish your traditional fishery?" they said in the 1970s and ’80s, "Then go catch shark!"
Can we really blame fishermen for taking on a seemingly healthy and lucrative fishery that the government was promoting?
What's worse is the only quotes this article has from shark fishermen are about how little money they're making now. I'm sure they had plenty to say about that, but I would be shocked to hear that not one of them complained that the government led them into this fishery and is now cutting them out of it.
You might even say they are getting finned. Reeled aboard, stripped of their only means to stay afloat and tossed back to sink to the bottom. An illegal practice on sharks is alive and well when it comes to U.S. fishermen.
This is the kind of thing fishermen should write letters to the editor about. I invite you to write to us, as always. But more important, read the article linked above and write to these good folks: Medill News Service, 1325 G St. N.W. Suite 730 Washington, D.C. 20005; (202) 347-8700; email@example.com.
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