Rebuttal: And how ’bout we have a “day of reckoning” for agenda driven anti-fishing misinformation? Now that would be some American Progress.


Let’s have a “day of reckoning” with the fact that groundfishermen’s troubles are a direct result of NOAA mismanagement: feeble surveys, inadequate assessments, unreasonable Maximum Sustainable Yield-crisis regulations, NOAA’s single species approach to a complex multi-species fishery, and then, of course, there’s our beloved catch shares “returning profitability to fishermen”, when actually, they’re nothing more than a disastrous campaign to privatize and turn the fish resource into a Wall Street commodity at the expense and demise of working fishermen. 

Additionally, NOAA has traditionally ignored environmental factors, such as warming ocean temperatures and increasing acidity, predation, and natural cycles.  Fish have tails and they’re really good swimmers!  Canadian Maritime fishermen, for instance, are testifying that they are inundated with more Cod this year than they’ve seen in 40 years.

NOAA focuses solely on managing the fishermen, not the fish in their environment. If this cod stock is indeed “collapsing”, it is certainly not due to “over harvesting”—the groundfish managers’ Total Allowable Catch has been under-harvested for years, sometimes by 75%, but consistently underfished by at least 50%.

Like John Bullard, Conathan uses Newfoundland’s cod history as an example of what “…we don’t want to happen to uzz!”  But, as usual, he tells an incomplete and skewed story.

Newfoundland’s cod fishery was shut down in 1992.  Arguably the collapse was a result of the previous decades’ industrial freezer/trawler excesses.  National Sea Products, Ltd. a large Canadian integrated fish company, for example, operated several large capacity trawlers in the bonanza following the 200mi. limit declarations of the late 70’s and 80’s. In 1987 National Sea Products, Ltd. generated more than $450 million in annual sales, employed 8,000 workers, and executed fishing operations in all four Atlantic Provinces and three U.S. states in addition to its growing overseas units.  As a result of this increased industrial style fishing pressure, the average size of the fish decreased and they became harder and harder to find until the Canadian government closed the fishery in 1992.  The smaller private fishing operations were penalized for the industrial offshore factory freezer/trawler fleet’s stock depleting activities. 

The Newfoundland cod collapse is in no way analogous to what’s going on in the dismantling of our fishery here in New England.  We don’t have factory freezer/trawler vessels operating in New England…not yet!  The parallel perhaps is between the Canadian Department of Fisheries’ faulty management posture, (i.e., inviting in Canadian and foreign industrial exploitation) and the similar posture of NOAA’s promulgation of catch shares quota management.  NOAA’s push for catch share ITQ consolidation is similar Canada’s opening the door for exploitation by companies like Canada’s National Sea Products, Ltd., and NOAA’s push could have an even worse result of collapsing more species than just cod.  NOAA it seems is in the process of privatizing all of our fisheries, and is currently working on catch shares for Monkfish. 

When any fish becomes a tradable commodity on the “open market” a global moneyed-monster such as the Pacific Andes’ China Fishery, with limitless “market capitalized” resources, can buy up limitless amounts of quota and with input restrictions and daily limits removed, they can bring in their factory trawlers and proceed to collapse the fish stocks. These huge integrated fishing companies also have limitless appetites.  They can always use more cod, more anything, to increase profit and bolster their stock prices.

Industrialization is what caused the Canadian cod collapse and it will be the fate of all our local fisheries if NOAA’s privatization plans are allowed to continue. Far from the independent fishermen “fishing themselves out of existence”, it’s the choking regulations and fleet consolidation which is clearing the way for the financialization/industrialization of the fish and the ocean environment.  This is what is destroying the vital New England fishing industry.

Faulty MSY management, quota give-away consolidation, and only-profit-matters exploitation by market-capitalized companies, causes collapse, not the efforts of independent family owned coastal fishing boats.

NOAA should stick to weather forecasting and navigational charting and give fisheries management over to a Department of Fisheries employing some personnel that know and care something about fishing.

Michael Conathan should learn something about what’s actually going on in these fisheries and get beyond the privatize-capitalize-profitize-everything talking points of the Enviro-Funds. 

And how ’bout we have a “day of reckoning” for agenda driven anti-fishing misinformation?  Now that would be some American Progress.