It seems that everyone has an opinion about fish stocks and sustainability lately. Naturally, in a desperate effort to hide whats actually happening, Noaa is releasing quite a bit of press on how well catch shares are working (Hate to have anyone important look foolish). Then there are the Engo’s that have supported Janie’s work implementing catch shares. They’ll certainly promote all of the fabulous ‘work’ they’ve done (meanwhile fill their pockets with any ol’ strip miners or do-gooders hard-earned penny). Then of course there are the douche-bags who just love to sit around at meal-time pontificating on what one should or shouldn’t eat (this changes daily. “don’t eat cod, its overfished. Eat cod: it’s overfished but managed properly”. I still can’t believe I read that last week). You’ve got the fishermen, which are really about ten different groups, all fighting with each other over who is responsible for fishing the best under a horse-shit management plan. And then you’ve got the general public: They just want to do the kinda right thing with as little insight as possible. They don’t care about draft amendments to the management plan; they don’t care about possible corruption on the management council; they don’t care about projected biomass models; All they know is this: If the fish populations are in trouble there is only one group to blame: the fisherman who are cleaning out our oceans.
There is one group of people intimately involved in the fisheries whose voice is never heard (by design): the observers. The people who have to speak both languages: fisherman talk and management talk.
Let me tell you why.
90% of observers these days are recent college grads with less than two years on the job (all of the ‘tenured’ observers have been weeded out for having opinions). Many of them where marine biology majors and have been groomed for a long time to think a certain way about the harvesting of wild seafood. This continued in their training, where they are told things like: ‘don’t become friends with these guys’ or ‘we will want your data, not your opinions’.
Now that there is just a small fraction of the fleet actively fishing, and a huge number of observers to cover the fleet that was fishing it seems that we have observers every day. Talking to these young boys and girls on a daily basis, I’m noticing some recurring themes:
1)Noaa had no idea how fast they could destroy a fleet that three years ago was thriving. There are way too many observers and it has become a job where you could very easily only work six days a month.
2)While data collected on a daily basis is processed quickly, it is used only to detract from the fisherman’s allocations. There is no determining why who may be catching what where.
3)Noaa does not care about what an observer thinks about his/her own observations. There opinions are just background noise and if it becomes too loud, well…
And this is a shame, because the observers (as green and as young as they are most of the time) are the only ones in the management end of things out there every day witnessing what is going on. Do fishermen alter their day-to-day operations to accommodate what an observer might see? Absolutely. Information that could also be useful if anyone were to take the time to go through the data and maybe compare it to some VMS data. That’s vessel monitoring system to the mouth-breathers.
Now, I may regret saying this, but I’ve had some pretty good observers lately. Young people who are cracking their brain-washed shell and making some insightful observations about not only the fishing but the management. At the same time they are becoming more and more bitter towards the system that has, in many ways, failed them too. Unfortunate no one seems to care.
Don’t get me wrong: if you puke on the boat chances are I will film you and put you on this stupid blog.
Why should you care about any of my silly ramblings?
Don’t ask me. Here, watch this for an hour and forget I said anything.