Posted March 27, 2013
I love to fish. I caught my first trout on the Housatonic River in Connecticut, where my grandmother used to live. My father took me to Alaska for the Coho salmon run when I was twelve years old. I have fly-fished, spear-fished, and hand-fished. I have walked miles to reach a fishing spot, slept on hard rock and in a cramped boat bunk. I have rousted myself hours before dawn to be on the water at daybreak and I have spent fourteen-hour days in hopeful vigilance, waiting for the adrenaline rush of a strike.
Fishing means a lot to my whole family. When I was an angsty teenager, and couldn’t agree with my parents about anything, I would always say yes to a tuna trip with pops. My younger brother is now twelve, and I can’t get him to do many outdoor adventures with me but he is always down to go fishing. Mom and grandma don’t fish, but they could never resist a locally-caught fresh fish or lobster dinner.
More than anything else with fishing, I love the idea of capturing my own food and harvesting the providence of the sea. I am infatuated with the concept of the “last wild food” and I am desperate when I think that supplies may be running out. I hear stories about the abundance that earlier generations of fishermen found and it tortures me that human greed is responsible for nearly wiping out such a bountiful source. I wish I could eat Bluefin Tuna without feeling the guilt that I am contributing to the extinction of a species.
And it’s not just me and my family. Fisheries are essential to the economy of the United States and the world. $199 Billion dollars, 1.7 million American jobs, and millions of people fed is no small fry.
Thankfully, there is a consciousness-shift occurring right now that is called “ecosystems-based management of fisheries”. This means using science to determine how to maintain stable populations of fish, and implementing policy to make it happen. Recently we have begun to see important results that have verified the success of this approach.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are providing safe havens for fish to breed and grow up, similar to National Parks, but under the sea. New scientific evidence shows that these parks, which are relatively new in California are working to rebuild fish populations in the parks, and providing a home base for fish to re-populate habitat throughout the coast.