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TimS

Why do we feel the way we do about commercial fishermen?

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JohnP originally posted this, some quotes from the book "Men's Live". These are some of the reasons why I personally have much contempt for the commercial fishing industry. Thanks John, I ordered the book after reading your post. It's always interesting to hear commercial fishermen comment on their own industries contemptuous, greedy, and self serving attitude while entrusted with a public resourse.

 

yes, there is some honesty in that book. Unfortunately, the author seemed to tie much of the deminse of the baymen to the striped bass. Stroll down Main Street in East Hampton, and take a look at prices in the windows of Cook Pony Farm, Delvin Mcniff, Allan Schneider, or Dunemere, Real Estate. Its sad, but no amount of fish will change things back.

 

Anyway, here are a few passages from that same book, passages that you might not find being quoted on that web site...

 

 

"In spring as many as 40 species may appear at one time or another in the nets...Many strand on the beach or wash ashore again, killed by the nets...Fishermen are blamed for this sad waste that is caused by a fussy American market" pp77-78

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"Despite the crews' efforts, the shore was littered with thousands of bluefish killed in the nets; in the hot calm sun they were there day after day...disgusted anglers and sunbathers cursed the netters" p 315

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"All the crews from up here went the first time (to haul seine in North Carolina), and we took over the whole stretch of beach; didn't know we was doin' it, you know, but we put them local boys out of business. We done so good that the fella that run the packin' house come down and told us that he wasn't goin' to take no more of our fish...(the following year) we was thirty six hours nonstop on that one haul. A lot of them was eighty pounds or better, had to be, it took a man on both ends to heave 'em up into the truck. And they was full of roe; the roe was runnin' out of all them fish, I got sick of the smell of it. Them fish must have been goin' up into all them rivers! That is the home of the bass down here, the home of bass! We landed two thousand boxes in three days. And not long after that them Rebels got the federal government to outlaw haul-seine rigs from out of state in the ******* Carolina fishery." - Baymen Bill Havens p 261

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"Once again, tons of wasted fish killed in trawls and traps and nets were dumped over the side by the commercial men, who were finding it more and more difficult to make ends meet." (Following the close of a Fish Protein Concentrate Factory on Greenport Long Island, which was used to process skates, sea robins, dogfish, etc.) p 149

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"I had three fine stripers on the beach (author Peter Matthiessen surfcasting after he left the commercial fishery) when Bobby Lester's Southampton seine crew came along and set around me...The old cotton nets, once six hundred fathoms long, had been replaced by nylon nets three times that length." p 159

 

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"In 1968 Bill Lester's crew made the biggest haul ever recorded on the south fork, and bass landings in 1973 were the highest ever. The next year the striped bass began a long decline, but demand for these fish kept the price so high that the diminishing fishery maintained its value." p 161

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"Resourceful men such as the oyster poachers took to rum running with flair and dedication, some of them later found ways to evade size limits and other regulations that the sportsmen were sponsoring in the state legislature." p 188

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"An ornery opportunistic attitude is the destructive side of the (commercial) fishermen's hard nosed independence." p 192

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"But most of the Baymen never helped... Them fellas seem to think it rained clams every time it rained, they'd just cull out the small clams, dump 'em on their driveway for gravel. There was always a-plenty in the old days, so the older generation didn't care, and some of the younger ones still think that way, they just don't give a damn..." Bayman Milt Miller discussing early attempts to get the area Baymen to be more conservation-minded. p 190

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"Used to leave them dogfish on the beach, long with daylights (windowpane flounder) and skates; now dressed dogs get twenty-five cents a pound." Bayman Bill Lester p 242

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"...many of these otherwise conservative, religious men feel entitled to ignore laws imposed upon them by outsiders. Some take short lobsters or scrape the berries (roe) off female lobsters and toss them into the tank after the rest; some take bug scallops and short bass. Even in the days of the sixteen inch limit, marked boxes of undersized fish were sometimes shipped to the Fulton Fish Market and shunted quickly into other trucks for illegal sale. Like their precious independence, their traditional right to use anything in the natural world that they may need are hard to relinquish." p 268

 

Read these quotes a second time if you've only read them once - these are the attitudes that threaten every species that swims.

 

TimS

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My opinions are usually backed by facts...

 

 

They are the Scourge of the Oceans...

 

Gee.. what took some of you so long to be convinced that these people only have their Greedy monetary interests at heart...

 

They don't give a Crap about the Fish or the Oceans...

 

 

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It disheartens the soul to read about things as such. I feel better that, in my lifetime, I and many other dedicated and honest people are doing what we can to preserve our resources. Such they may be. Our forefathers needed to earn a living too but, in the days of plenty when conservation morality was unheard of, there was the sense to greed and glut for the almighty dollar. Same as today but only with less resources to plunder. I too, have worked on commercial fishing vessels and have witnessed first hand the irresponsible acts of waste. I left that vocation disgusted and vowed never to return. I don't buy fish because of the commercialism and subsequent waste that is associated with its sale. I eat only fish that I catch personally. I harbor no ill feelings against commercial fisherman, they need to earn a living too, but we can do with a lot less waste. As my Dad and military boot camp impressed upon me "Eat all you want but, eat all you take."

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The book, Men's Lives, is truly well-written and fascinating reading, mostly about the old-time Long Island haul seiners. As history, it's a tradition that tends to be romanticized by modern folks--especially non-fishermen. That's partly why pop star Billy Joel got involved with the seiners and created all sorts of controversy--when was it? Back in the early 80s, I think.

 

Matthiesen (Men's Lives author) was a buddy of John Cole's (author of Striper; likewise a terrific book) back in their salad days on LI, when both tinkered with commercial fishing.

 

Inshore commercials even now are highly visible to the non-fishing public and are often romanticized, which adds, unfortunately, to their political clout.

 

The most telling thing to me is that some years back in talking with both some old-time haul seiners on LI and with some older watermen in MD, all defended thier careers vehemently, but all also agreed they didn't want thier kids going into it--no future in it, they said.

 

Interesting..... --OJ

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My intention was to point out that there was another side to the book, another side to the story, different from what was being used for a certain web site. I did not want to say that all commercial fishermen are scum, if thats how its coming across.

 

Another fisherman used the phrase "age of ignorance" to describe what it was like then. I think that phrase can be applied to many who operated pre-moratorium, both rec and commercial.

 

But yes, there are still a few dinosaurs roaming the docks and beaches.

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My intention was to point out that there was another side to the book, another side to the story, different from what was being used for a certain web site. I did not want to say that all commercial fishermen are scum, if thats how its coming across.

 

Another fisherman used the phrase "age of ignorance" to describe what it was like then. I think that phrase can be applied to many who operated pre-moratorium, both rec and commercial.

 

But yes, there are still a few dinosaurs roaming the docks and beaches.

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My intention was to point out that there was another side to the book, another side to the story, different from what was being used for a certain web site. I did not want to say that all commercial fishermen are scum, if thats how its coming across.

 

(Its a social commentary. Yes it is sad)

 

Another fisherman used the phrase "age of ignorance" to describe what it was like then. I think that phrase can be applied to many who operated pre-moratorium, both rec and commercial.

 

But yes, there are still a few dinosaurs roaming the docks and beaches.

 

[This message has been edited by JohnP (edited 12-30-2001).]

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When Ignorance , greed and arrogence meet apathy something gets abused.concern and determined effort are great antidotes against these abuses. The question is, is it enough for someone else to be concerned and make the effort or will I be a part of it?

 

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What concerns me is that their seems to be an additude in commercials that they need to get these fish while they're still here. This is a worldwide phenomina. Conservation doesn't apply. Many fish populations are being eliminated and fished so hard that extinction will occur. Bluefin tuna and swordfish aren't even allowed to mature anymore before they are taken. We are much more stringent here than most countries which is very frightening.

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To me they are all greedy basterds. But to a point, they are not the ones to take the total blame.

If the demand is high in rest. and seafood markets, then that is what they go after. Everyone in rest. wants a nice rockfish fillet. So who are the ones to supply?? The comms. because its in such high demand, so they take the brunt of our hatred.

I hate to hear stories of "dead fish washing up on the beaches" and crap of the like. But unfortuantely, as long as they are out there, the dead fish will keep washing up on beaches.

Since all cattle that are used for steaks and burgers are all farm raised and not out in the wild, why not have striped bass farms just for supplying the demands of people wanting a nice tasty rock fillet in their favorite rest..

"BILLYJOE JIMBOBS SALTWATER FARMS INC."

Striped Bass on the left

Saltwater Carp on the right

WERE WORKING TO KEEP OUR OCEANS FREE

 

not a bad idea huh??

 

 

AllenC

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