West Coast Commercial Fisheries in Trouble
Saw an article in our local newspaper today that was on the 'plight' of the comemrcial fishermen her on the West Coast.
The amazing thing about the article was the fishermen blaming the government for their plight. The fishermen claimed the government (both federal and state) encouraged them to increase their efficiency at catching fish beginning in 1976. How did the government do this? Glad you asked. The comercial boys claimed the government did this because the federal government increased the sole fishing waters limit out ot 200 miles from shore. The increase in U.S. fishing mileage from shore caused the commercial boys to go out and buy bigger and more efficient boats and gear.
Amazing how the increased enforcement out to 200 mmiles offshore was responsible for the fishing fleet to expand and get bigger boats and more efficient gear! Anyhow, the areticle goes on t0 talk about the 'poor commercial fishermen' who only did what the government asked them (er encouraged them) to do. now the commercial boys are facing diminishing returns. They can fish fewer days per year, can't fish in some areas at all (and they claim this is not fair because "there is no evidence that fish stocks are being depleted"), are one of the most regulated industries in the U.S., and can't get a good price for the fish they do catch. They also claim that they have had their catchreduced without the governemtn having good data to show that fish stocks are in trouble.
The commercial boys go on to say that they are unfairly being treated by the government who is giving farmers price supports and environmentalist who are claiming that long line nets are akin to srip minining the ocean. This of course, according to the commercial boys, means that the fovernment should be giving them money for there lack of opportunity to fish, low prices they are getting for the fish they do catch, and because the govenment caused them to go out and catch more fish.
The author of the article does point out in the last 2 to 3 paragraphs (only a small portion of the complete article and it was on a different page in the newspaper as well) that overfishing by the commercial fleet has actually caused the problem, just like it did in New England, through overfishing.
We fishermen can hope that this is the beginning of a reduction in the commercial fishing fleet along with having sustainable harvest levels (read reduced) established. I do wonder if the rest of us taxpayers will have to pay off the commercial boys here on the West Coast for not fishing despite the fact that they lobbied for increased fishing opportunity, increased harvest limits, and the allowance of longer and more efficient nets.