To the editor:
The Magnuson Stevens Act, as it’s currently written and interpreted by NOAA, is a lot like watching a puppy dog trying to catch his docked tail.
Although amusing to watch, the impossibility of the task makes it somewhat sad and ultimately pointless.
Now, if the dog’s tail had not been lopped off and was still as nature intended, the poor pup could eventually catch it. Similarly, If Magnusson had sufficient flexibility in rebuilding time-frames, and the language that requires that all stocks be concurrently rebuilt to historic highs eliminated, we might stand a chance of catching our own tails, which we’ve been fruitlessly chasing around the ocean for 37 years.
During that entire time span, the only thing that we’ve built up is a bureaucracy of staggering proportions which, in its Quixotic quest, has only succeeded in methodically dismembering this country’s first industry.
Even without active human predation, some stocks will always be at a low ebb of the cycle of nature, while others are at a high.
Magnuson doesn’t account for this natural, cyclical, fluctuation in its short sighted, inflexible mandate. Nor does it take into consideration such impacts as habitat degradation (pollution), climate change, and the physical alteration of the hydro-dynamics of our estuarine environments, critical to the reproductive cycles of so many species.
Yet all too often, it’s fishermen who are stuck with the tab after the excesses of modern society make headlines, and the party’s over.
All that having been said — and, hopefully, duly noted — there’s a moral to every story, and what we can learn from this one is this:
While that puppy and NOAA can easily and frequently kiss their own butts, they’ll never catch that elusive tail, try as they might.
It will always be chasing them.
Captain, F/V Sasquatch