To the editor:
Just a few thoughts on the government's use of Homeland Security and Department of Commerce's ocean dollars.
By way of improving stock assessment, especially Gulf of Maine cod, we're going to have to start putting fishermen observers on NOAA's over-sized research vessel, the Bigelow.
We're gonna' have to start putting fishermen observers on NOAA's Oversized Research Vessel The O/R/V Bigelow. Fishermen are needed on that operation who know what size net to use, are familiar with setting out the net, and who know how, where, and when to look for fish.
We can't get a realistic stock sampling with a net ill-fitted to an over-powered and over-sized vessel which was not intended for fishing, but more for deep ocean research (read oil, gas, and minerals). The Bigelow is too big to tow a net in 60.39ft and shallower. This is the depth, to the shoreline, that holds a great concentration of young fish (and inshore Cod—-at certain times). This extremely important area needs to be accurately and constantly sampled. Does building and maintaining vessels such as the O/R/V Bigelow constitute effective and intelligent government agency use of funding from taxpayer dollars?
The net comes up plugged with fish when small mesh stock survey nets are fished by a fisherman on a right sized fishing vessel with proper gear, used correctly, and in the right places at the right time—-it's called co-operative research as done by Capt. Jimmy Rhule, for instance, of the Fishing Vessel Darana R. for the Northeast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program, Virginia Institute of Marine Science. (This program and co-operative programs like it must scramble for support and are typically patchwork funded at the last-minute while NOAA uses millions of research dollars to push their bogus catch shares program.)
Perhaps we'll get Prof. Rosenberg to foot the bill for fishermen observers and some co-operative research from his observer and "research" company, MRAG (he could probably use a write-off about now—there's a lot of observing and govt. researching going on these days, and he's always been a champion of science in defense of fish stocks—-he'll surely contribute). EDF and Oceana might want to kick in as well? We might even put in for a Pew Grant? Maybe we'll be awarded a few million.
Then, with all this funding, we'll be able to ask the fishermen observers to use their own boats—give them fuel money and let them land and market and contribute a portion of the caught fish to a local food bank. By doing it this way, there might actually be some fish included in the fish stock data collection process. Who knows?
As to Homeland Security dollars, consider this:
The Captain of the boarded fishing vessel reported that he was ordered to haul back the gear in the middle of a tow so Coast Guard could make sure they were towing the legal mesh in their cod end (6.5"). East of Shinnecock a vessel can get a small mesh exemption to possess Fluke and still use a mesh less than 6.5"; but West of Shinnecock it's a violation and would be eco-devastating—-apparently the Squid and Butterfish stocks West of Shinnecock would go straight to Hell if each of those vessels were to take a box or two of Squid and Butters with their Fluke. In fairness however, this idiotic ruling is not the USCG's doing, that's our enlightened Fisheries Management System at work, perpetrating that regulatory absurdity.
But this USCG "Pull-over Bub" obviously coordinated enforcement offensive leads one to wonder who ordered the blitz? Why three medium to heavy endurance Coast Guard ships home-ported in Boston, steaming to NJ one south and one west of Hudson Canyon and inshore to the east off of Block Island, all converging on a handful of fishing vessels on New Year's Eve? Did the USCG Commandant wake that morning, spring from his gimballed bed and summon his crew,
"Let's go get 'em boys! I had a dream vision last night that someone west of Hudson's had fluke on board along with two boxes of squid — they must have a 3-inch mesh bag — Quick, Quick, fire up the Cutters and inflate the Zodiacs! Quick, before the World's Calamari supply is lost forever..."! Must’ve been last night’s Ravioli—-or was it something else?
Really, was there some reported threat to Homeland Security? Was there an anticipated spike in IUU Fishing (Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated...Andy is that you?) or could this perhaps be Dale Jones requesting this surge, still directing a lucrative Jihad from the Great Gulf and beyond? Who ordered this—-and Why? Are we supposed to believe that this sort of Law Enforcement saturation is routine? If this is routine, it's gonna' cost all of us an awful lot of money—-very quickly.
Could this push have been IUU infuencing (Insidious, Unrecorded, and Undisclosed) — through proper channels of course by some unnamed organization hoping for law enforcement to come up with some juicy and timely violations, as perhaps another installment in the defilement/derailment of this fishing industry?
Some busted violators hanging out to dry would certainly help discredit the fishermen's growing resistance movement (and Amendment 16 lawsuit appeal) which, through its refusal to go away, is increasingly pointing out the destructive effect of unbridled government/NGO agency power? Just a thought.
It might not be immediately apparent, but in reality, I have all the respect in the world for most of the work done by the U.S. Coast Guard and I'm truly grateful that they are out there, and in most situations they're watching out for fishermen and other mariners. But as a citizen, interested in what my representative government is doing, I must ask the question of whoever initiated this push, whoever sent three Coast Guard ships from Boston on a mission to concurrently comb through a handful of local fishing vessels, in different locations, for several days—-while 95% of the containers and shipping in and out of NY and Boston go un-inspected—-does this constitute effective and intelligent government agency use of funding from taxpayer dollars?DICK GRACHEK