Foolish Regulations Are Devastating Fish Stocks

Editors Comment: This was originally published in Speak Up America way back in 1994, but it still has meaning and you should read this.


By “Fossil Bill” Kramer

While national publicity spotlights loggers and farmers as the main victims of oppressive environmental regulation, other vocations also have been hard hit.

Animal ranching, for example. In Minnesota alone, sheep populations have plum­meted 80% from 94,000 several years ago to 16,000 in 1993.

The reason – predators. Though they decimate livestock, people are forbidden to kill them, forcing sheep growers to feed wolves, bears and coyotes rather than humans.

A similar fate has befallen commercial fisher folk. According to Teresa Platt, head of the Fishermen’s Coalition, America’s tuna fleet numbered 67 boats in 1990, of which 35 operated in the eastern Pacific.

Now we have only 47 boats and the eastern Pacific is mostly closed to tuna fishing under ridiculous provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

This act supposedly protects creatures such as dolphins from human excesses. Actually it prohibits control of not only dolphins (and polar bears which, incredibly, it labels marine mammals) but also sea lions and otters. Noted for voracious appetites, these now are so numerous they threaten fish and shellfish stocks along our entire western seaboard. Besides tuna, other fish harvests are seriously impacted by eco-foolishness. Here’s a letter (paraphrased) we’d like to share with you from someone with personal experience.

“We salmon fishermen are certainly no worse off than lots of other people, but I’ve watched our seasons go from year-round to six months. We’ve lost our insurance on federally documented boats such as mine. We’ve been pushed into small areas which depletes salmon there. We’ve lost markets because no one knows if there’ll be a season. And Native Americans are netting the rivers and selling salmon eggs to Japan for caviar.

“The latest report said they were selling 80,000 lbs. Of eggs, representing 1.8 million salmon to collect those eggs. The figure should be more like 3 million because they take male and female at the same time in gill nets. Also 80,000 lbs. of eggs mean many millions of fish.

“It said the eggs are more valuable than the fish. Does this explain why fish are becoming scarce?

“Not necessarily. One main reason is there used to be hatcheries everywhere. Now people are persuaded hatchery fish are inferior, though both parents come from wild stock.

“I work with a group called Salmon Trout Enhancement Program (STEP). We’ve proved salmon can be raised inexpensively in virtually any container in any stream. Fish and Game says “No”. They claim it costs $3.00 a fish to raise salmon. Yet STEP people do it for one-half cent each.

“Also, Coast Guard regulations are killing us. I believe they are “Green” influenced.

“It seems there’s this massive drive to get people off the oceans, out of the woods, off the farms, out of the country and into the cities where they’re closer to the Welfare Office.

“I’ve always thought if you don’t have enough spuds, plant more. If you run out of paint, get more.

“Our coastal communities are fishing villages, and they’re all but dead. It’s a shame.

“A bumper sticker the other day said `if you’re against abortion, don’t have one.’ I feel the same about fish. If you don’t want hatchery fish, quit fishing.

“If the “Green” people put half their money into habitat and raising fish, there would be enough for all. Instead they have to sue everyone, pocket the money, and (bleep) on the country.

“I agree that some practices have been wrong, but let’s fix those problems and get the fish raised and planted back and start harvesting them so we can live in some sort of normal fashion.

“It only takes three years to establish a salmon run in a creek or river. What we need is more effort, less BS, and fewer expensive surveys and evaluations.

“If your vacuum cleaner breaks down, you don’t analyze the history of cleaning or buy a hundred different carpets – you get the cleaner fixed.

When California condors were near extinction, they were caught and raised in pens (over the objections of Green groups) until there were enough to release them.

“I enclose a computer printout of confidential figures from (someone I know) at Bonneville Dam. He gave this to me from the actual fish count log. It shows salmon stocks there have been pretty well rising since 1938.

“Keep up the Great Work. We need more cranky buggers like you writing. A Stinky Fisherman, Larry Cruthers North Bend, OR.”

Thanks for a great letter, Larry. By the way, folks, we receive much mail and respond to each letter. Sometimes when we’re traveling (like now), mail doesn’t catch up and we fall behind. Please forgive such delays.

Larry’s computer printout details six types of salmonid fish counted over Bonneville Dam from 1938 through 1989. For free copy, send self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Salmon, Box 146, Silver Bay, MN 55614.§


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