Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Friday, 11 February 2011
Oftentimes when I talk to people outside the fishing industry, they ask me what the good news is in fishing because I always seem focused on what fishermen are kvetching about.
I would like to say that there always is some form of good news.
But anyone who follows this industry closely knows that we are barraged weekly (and sometimes daily) with stories from around the country about one fleet or another being targeted by one group or another.
It's tough to look on the bright side when you are fighting for your life.
The groups doing the targeting frequently have their own ideals in mind. And those ideals (whether they are wildlife protection, alternative energy development, marine conservation or many others) should not be swept under the rug.
However, what I like to remind people is that you cannot forget that when you fight fishing, you are fighting individual fishermen. You are fighting your own countrymen over the jobs that allow them to make a living and provide for their families.
This week in Virginia, a bill that would allow the Virginia Marine Resources Commission to ban crab dredging for "two or more consecutive" seasons, according to the Daily Press in Newport News, flew through the state House and is on its way to the Senate.
News of the bill comes as a surprise to the local industry.
So tell me how such a bill comes to be without the consultation of local fishing groups and processors? And if this were your livelihood on the line, wouldn't you be a little torqued?
I'm not saying the winter crab dredge ban is never in order. But what fishermen cannot and should not stand for is being treated as if they count for less than their catch.
There is a way to protect fish as well as fishermen. It might take a little more creativity than we're used to, but finding a new path to a better way of life is what makes this a great country.
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