Jim Furlong: Let’s Keep Fishing!!!

Jim Furlong: Let’s Keep Fishing!!!

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I listen with great interest and concern to some recent twists in logic that attempts to fix the declining caplin stocks and the near vanished wild salmon stocks with a battle plan that includes more fishing. This is a song we have heard before. It is a very old song that was about more than caplin and salmon. It is a song that was once about cod, and before that probably the great auk.

When things go bad and we are told stocks of virtually anything are in massive decline … we blame the science. We say there is too much of it or too little of it. Either will do.

The ‘Votes’ Fishery

Remember the days of the northern cod closure when the open lines and letters to the editor sections were filled with anecdotal claims built around the theme of “There are thousands of fish out there!’’

With the cod we even came up with something called the food fishery which might well have been called the votes fishery. It existed on the premise that we had some sort of “right” to take cod out of the ocean, no matter how few of them were left. So it was the teachers, bankers, mechanics and pastry chefs that took to waters to catch cod. It made sense at Confederation Building and at the Parliament Building in Ottawa. It made no sense in the oceans … only at the ballot box.

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Now in the face of the current caplin stock that has been decimated, I heard a new piece of logic the other day and it is that most of the caplin are taken by natural predators and only 20 thousand tons are taken commercially … SOOOO we should continue with the commercial fishery because it is probably okay.

You Have To Stop Fishing

The other debate that made my ears perk up was about the salmon fishery. This time the recreational fishery because that’s all there is really for wild salmon. The line of thought on this one is that we shouldn’t close salmon rivers because if we take legitimate fishermen off the rivers – i.e., those retaining salmon and those practicing catch and release  – then that would leave the rivers open to poachers. The conclusion in this logic is that catching salmon, scarce though they may be, actually saves them because it puts law abiding salmon fishermen out on the rivers so poachers can’t roam free. It rings somehow of the bizarre plan to end mass shootings in schools in the United States by arming all the teachers.

Here is what I think. Any conservation platform that includes a plank that says either: a) the science is wrong; or b)  let’s keep fishing because it is the right thing to do and a birthright; doesn’t get much traction with me. I’m not a fisherman, but filed under the notion of common sense is a rule that says if you want to conserve a stock … you have to stop fishing.

NTV’s Jim Furlong can be reached by emailing: jfurlong@ntv.ca

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