They Told Us

rifa2They told us we were using twine that was too small and not allowing juvenile fish to escape. We accepted and went to the largest mesh size in the world for the species we seek.

They told us we needed to protect spawning areas where fish reproduce. We closed thousands of square miles of the most productive areas in which we fished.

Then they told us this was not enough so they made tracts of ocean closed during certain months.

They told us we were fishing too many days so they told us we were going to only be allowed to fish 88 days a year. We didn’t like it but we were told it would pay off for us when the fish returned.

They told us 88 days were too many so they decided to give us what they deemed appropriate according to our historic participation in the fishery. The result was the people who got out of the fishery and pursued other species were penalized and many were left with little or nothing even though they did the most to help the resource. The lucky ones got 40 or 50 days to fish if you can call that lucky.

They told us we must take 20 days out of the fishery during the spring spawning season.

They told us to go and fish the closed area where yellow tail flounder were very prolific on a special program called B-days. We worried that if we did not use our B-days they to would be taken away just like what happened in the past. The result was massive landings of yellowtail and the plundering of the healthy stock and prices paid to the fishermen as low as 15 cents per LB. They took the B-days away anyway. In the middle of all these things happening they made a law that basically states that every species in the ocean must be at maximum abundance levels at the same time. Everyone knows this is impossible yet no government scientists have told them it can’t be done so we are left in a position where some species are not over fished yet we cannot pursue them because others are and live in the same area.

They told us to design new style nets that will catch only the species not over fished. We did this and proved to them with their assistance and documentation that showed it can and was being done. This was years ago yet we still are not allowed to use this new gear. The result is 97% of the haddock that we are allowed to harvest are not being taken. For twenty odd years we have done everything that has been asked of us and more. The results are more fish and a bright looking future, right? Well mostly, we do have more fish but it would seem that there are never going to be enough. So instead of a bright future and payback for our sacrifices we get nothing. We now have failing shore side support business’s fishermen loosing everything they own, poor quality imported garbage that is raised in, for lack of a better term, a sewer, that they try to pass off as seafood. This is what we are left with for all of our co-operation. If you are wondering who “they” are, they would be the National Marine Fisheries Service. If you thought the IRS was bad you aint seen nothing. They are the most arrogant heartless bunch of beaurocratic empty suits I have ever seen.

Joel Hovanesian

F/V Excalibur

RI. Fishermen’s Alliance