Philip and Chris were asking me if making earrings out of the codfish eardrums was sacrilegious (me being a vegetarian and all), and I guess it kind of is. I mean, they caught and killed all these fish just so we could cut them open. But I'm very conflicted about this whole fishing thing now.
I'm still against the whole killing animals thing, but after all I've learned about the fishing industry and meeting fishermen and all that, I want there to be a sustainable fishing industry. Unfortunately, a lot of fish are being wiped out and fish are a lot smaller now than then used to be because of overfishing and pollution.
I am writing a paper for my policy class on the Marine Life Protection Act in California and about the Marine Protected Areas that have just been created and I started off completely for them because they are like a state park but in the ocean. But seeing the effect on fishermen and coastal towns dependent on the fishing industry, I'm not so sure anymore that California did the right thing. I'm all for protecting our oceans, but closing these areas are not the best way. The government is using the fishing industry as a scapegoat for all the problems. I feel more strongly about saving our oceans from pollution rather than fishermen.
That doesn't mean fishermen are off the hook; there are some fishing practices that are bad for our oceans. Trawling, for example, drags across the ocean floor dong who knows what to the bottom. And quahoging? No matter what Jodi "my fingers are pure muscle, yours are fat and bone" King has to say, his quahoging methods are not good for the ocean floor.
And then there's by-catch. So it's good I guess to have limits on the number of fish and they're size and all that, but half the time it just means that fishermen are tossing dead fish over the sides. That just doesn't seem productive at all. But if we didn't have limits, there'd be worse overfishing and more juveniles caught and not allowed to live to adulthood in order to reproduce.
So pollution, I feel, needs to take more of the heat than just the fishermen. Oh, I guess I could clarify that I'm mainly defending the small fishermen and not the huge factory ships and definitely not fish farms. But pollution, what is pollution anyway? Clearly oil spills and pesticides and trash. Wait, when I was on the SSV Corwith Cramer, we were just dumping trash overboard. Not plastic, but any paper and food and even some metal cans. And our waste too! We had to be a certain distance from shore, but still. What else do you do out there? We were out at sea for 11 days and if we had tried to pack it out, it's be ridiculous and smell horrendous. Huh. So I don't know where to go from there.
I'm seeing all these problems, right? So what about solutions. I haven't a clue. The Marine Protected Areas seem like they might help a little. But at the expense of fishermen. Before this semester I probably would have said screw that, we've messed up the ocean so much we can suffer a little while the ocean recovers. And I never cared for humans as much as animals when it came to things like that. But at the same time, they've taken away the best fishing grounds and just added another restriction on top of many to already struggling fishermen. And the Marine Protected Areas don't really change the fact that we are still polluting our oceans. Sure, in some areas you can't boat and catch anything for any reason. Well except for science.
You can get by a lot of restrictions with science as your crutch. Take Japan, they've been whaling in the name of scientific research since they can't catch whales for consumption anymore. But the catch is, once scientists have done what they will, they have to make the rest of the whale commercially viable. Which doesn't outrage the Japanese because they've been eating whale for hundreds of years; it's in their culture. And why wouldn't it be? They live on an island the size of California full of mountains and unfarmable lands! Fishing is vital to their existence.
At our whaling panel, Katy (my professor) asked everyone at the end whether they think we should allow a sustainable whale fishery. Our class was evenly split. I said no, but my no was in the broad sense of not killing animals in general. I'm not so sure that's my resolute answer though.
And sort of on the same vein (they're connected in my mind anyway- but then again, here we're trained to think about "the threads that bind" and how the ocean connects all things), there's the oil industry. In Louisiana we went on an Exxon Mobil crew ship. They gave us hardhats, gloves, and safety glasses (which we got to keep) and everyone was happy and exciting and liking this Exxon Mobil. But then when we stopped to think, wasn't Exxon Mobil related to that oil spill that's still causing problems? And aren't they an oil company? And on the boat, people were asking all these great questions to the head guy about the environment and all that and he answered pretty impressively, I thought. He said that yes, oil and petroleum and all are an issue but he works for a company for profit off of these resources, so it doesn't make sense to try to support the anti-oil cause. Besides, most people just connect the oil industry with cars and pollution, but when you think about it, we use petroleum for everything. Remember that video from junior high where some girl is living for a day without petroleum products and she can't wear make-up and goes around in a paper bag? It was a stupid video, but completely true. We depend a lot on the oil industry, and not just for cars.
Ahhhh, so many conflicts and I have no idea what to do about them. I want to help somehow. And in my own little way, I am. I don't drive, I recycle, I eat organic and locally grown, I tell people why these things are good and I'm really trying to figure out how to change more on a larger scale. But think globally, act locally will have to be my motto for now.
Ok, I need to be done ranting now.
I really need to work on my policy paper. It needs A LOT of work and it's due Saturday. I'm so done with work though. Sarah and I had a successful presentation yesterday, complete with a paper maché volcano with a fabulous eruption. Man am I going to miss Williams-Mystic. I'm glad I'm coming back this summer to work for Lisa (my oceanography prof) and go to Canada with her and some seniors working on their theses. And Rachel and Emily are working for Jim! And I love both of them! Rachel woke me up by jumping on me this morning. IT was actually a good wake-up, and I'll miss that kind of thing at Carleton and home. Oh well. I should stop thinking about the end. And on to the Marine Science Center for some fun and exciting lava discussion!