Not being able to sleep, in anticipation of going fishing the next day, I thought about putting in motion a plan to pick up all the essentials for tomorrows fishing trip. I picked up some bait and decided to go to the local commercial fishing dock to see about getting some ice when I bumped into an old friend, sitting on a bench staring out at the water, who has been a commercial fisherman for over fifty years. When I asked him, “How have you been Marvin,” he slowly turned my way and said he has just about had enough.
Not knowing the full extent of his problem I sat beside him and asked him why he looked so down and out. He began by saying, “You know, Bob, I have worked very hard over the years learning from my Dad all about fishing and have raised a family, fed them and even sent them to college because I went out this very inlet every day the weather allowed, in an effort to be the best at what I do, catching fish for people to eat. All I ever wanted to do was be independent and provide for my family.”
It’s not like me to be silent for a long period of time, but the emotion Marvin displayed, and his serious tone made it impossible to interject any of my own thoughts about a subject that makes my blood boil. Marvin continued…”At first the government wanted me to keep a log book of all the places I fished, and I complied, then they convinced me to not fish for cod for a couple of years so they could make a comeback. Now they have all the times and places that I fished over the years and I am on a very small quota, so small that if I went out to catch that quota it would not even pay for the fuel that I would consume. You see Bob, my quota is based on the years that I was convinced NOT to fish for cod! Now I could sell my fishing permit for cod to a big corporate boat who has been buying all the small boat quotas, but they are the ones that got all the log book entries, that I was required to fill out, from the government.” Again, I was speechless. I had no idea that government intrusion in every aspect of regular peoples lives had gotten this bad. (well…maybe I did)
After a few minutes of absolute silence and me wondering how to console my old friend, he spoke again. “Bob, I just might be able to continue to fish for a living even though I am getting old but I can’t find a young guy to teach what I have learned and been successful at. There are no young people who want to get into commercial fishing for it’s future is doomed because of government regulations and environmental wackos who keep feeding the public bogus information on how we are destroying the oceans of the world.”
I finally got up the nerve to add something to this very depressing conversation when I added, “Marvin I am really sorry for all that you are so sadly going through but I’m sure things will improve.” Although I knew better, his plight is the same as so many of this countries hard working fishermen are going through. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and environmental organizations like The Pew Foundation and Environmental Defense Fund have all had a major role in the demise of the American fisherman.
He replied, “No it will not Bob, because one of my children, who my wife of fifty years and I raised and sent to college, now works for NOAA, the other younger daughter works for the Pew Foundation and my oldest, who graduated from the Coast Guard Academy boarded me three times last week fifty miles offshore, to make sure I was in full compliance with all fishing regulations.”