Environmental Profiteers Ocean in Peril?

July 13, 2014

“The Planet is in peril! We are in a time of un-precedented crisis! The oceans are being emptied of fish by overfishing and the environmental organizations are the only people that can save us!”

It is a compelling story. It has easily identifiable heroes and villains, an uncomplicated plot and easy solutions. You couldn’t devise a better story for mass consumption and selling this tale has been extremely profitable for those who earn their living campaigning for public support of an agenda that places wealthy foundations and trusts into positions of influence and  control over vast amounts of publicly owned (for now) environmental resources. They are the members of a group of non-governmental organizations with a myriad of environmental sounding names. They are the environmental profiteers and their expanding business is incredibly profitable.

Non-profit organizations considered profiteers may seem contradictory but if we look at historical precedent it is in fact not that unusual. One of the original non-profit organizations was the pirate ship. Pirate ships were very effective non-profit organizations that were all about profit. The spoils of their activities were divided amongst the crew and the ship was given only enough earnings to maintain it and keep it ready for the next battle. Other examples of non-profit organizations were gangs of bandits and other forms of organized thieves. That their activities were designed to deprive others of their resources is just an ironic coincidence.

Article Photo
The non-profit pirate ship “Green Revenge.” 

Generally the word profiteer is used in describing a situation where war exists and in this case that is true. The foundations and trusts have waged a decades long war against the honest hard working men and women of the fishing industry and their small businesses. They have pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into media and public opinion campaigns effectively purchasing the environmental movement and creating an entire industry of paid environmental advocacy and capture of regulatory control of public resources that has launched environmental profiteers into high government positions where they can best influence public policy on behalf of their paymasters.

The fact that the ocean crisis is a made up story based on science that most graduates of the fifth grade should be able to recognize as not science at all means nothing to these people. They must have crisis in order to get paid. Their jobs depend on the public being fearful of a litany of impending disasters. Any attempt to introduce the actual science of fish stock abundance assessment and surveys into their dramatic storyline is met with the vehemence one can expect from people fighting  for their jobs. Selling the story and refuting all real scientific fact that shows it to be the over-dramatized fantasy that it is shows these self appointed saviors of the planet to be exactly what they are, environmental profiteers.

There are some who believe these stories masquerading as science are in fact a failure of the peer review system…

A community of belief has arisen whose credo has become “fisheries management
has failed, we need to abandon the old approaches and use marine protected areas
and ecosystem-based management.” I fear that this belief has shaded the peer review
process so badly that almost any paper showing a significant decline in fish abundance
or benefits of marine protected areas has a high probability of getting favorable
reviews in some journals regardless of the quality of the analysis. Critical peer review
has been replaced by faith-based support for ideas and too many scientists have become
advocates. An advocate knows the answer and looks for evidence to support it; a scientist
asks nature how much support there is for competing hypotheses.

From the paper, “Faith based Fisheries by Ray hilborn.

Advocates with scientific credentials are extremely well paid these days. It is unfortunate that real science isn’t as popular for public consumption as the sensationalized claims that the advocates make. Let’s take a look at those claims..

Fishing in the oceans is no longer sustainable.

Worldwide we have failed to manage the fisheries.

In a few decades there will be no fish left.

Fish populations are decimated worldwide.

The support for these claims is based on a simple premise.  Catch rate= Abundance. Any decline in catch rate is shown as a failure of the fish stock. This failed scientific model shows all attempts to conserve the fish of our oceans by reducing catch rates as evidence of a decline of abundance when in reality the reverse is true. Declining catches of fish world wide show a trend in fisheries management toward sustainability and when the science of stock assessment and survey is used the world’s regulated fisheries with only a small percentage of exceptions show long term catch rates that allow maximum sustainable yield over the long term.  The majority of the worlds fisheries are stable and some like New England Groundfish show a surprising rebuilding of once depleted stocks.

Twenty-one stocks have been rebuilt to healthy levels since 2000, and three  key stocks in the Northeast – Georges Bank haddock, Atlantic pollock and spiny  dogfish – reached healthy levels in 2010, said Eric Schwaab, the head of NOAA’s  Fisheries Service.

“We are turning a corner as we see important fish stocks rebounding,”  Schwaab said in a statement.

Perhaps it is time for the wealthy foundations and trusts to stop financing faith based story telling disguised as science, and invest some of their money in actually helping to clean up our environment. Pollution and industrial exploitation of the sea are the biggest threats to our oceans today and there is little or no advocacy to help us against the polluters and industrial exploiters that are applying to lease large tracts of the ocean in US territorial waters. If they did that then they would truly be the financers of the saviors of our environment. Until then they are just the paymasters of the environmental profiteers.

John Johnson

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