The North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to revise a halibut catch share plan that opens the door to a one-halibut limit for sportfishing charters in southcentral Alaska. Remember the loud outcry from local sport fishing charters last spring? NOAA’s top official, Jane Lubchenco spent more than an hour in Homer listening as person-after-person bent her ear on why the decision would be unfair.
Essentially, the council’s recommendation, made Friday, divides Alaska’s halibut quota between charter and commercial fishermen. It’s a decision that pits those two important sectors against one another, and for that we are very sorry.
Of course, the council functions primarily as an advisory council, with no actual power to implement policy. But it’s on its way to the decision makers – the International Halibut Commission and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
The plain truth is that these actions stem from a need to protect stocks of our favorite but declining flatfish. No responsible management wouldn’t reduce fishing pressure during times of lower fish biomass.
But the question common sense should apply is: Where do we stand to save the most stock from waste?
In Alaska waters, 20 million pounds of halibut were thrown away in bycatch from the big trawlers. In our area alone, the Gulf of Alaska, 4 million pounds is estimated to have been wasted. That’s a lot of fish filets.
Let’s not turn this into a boxing match between neighbors at the docks, the longliners heading out to fill their quotas, and the charter captains waiting to welcome their Halibut-Capital clients. Instead, if energy is to be expended, channel it into an education of biomass and waste.
That an industry is allowed to waste more than a combined catch limit smells of more than rotten fish. We’re all in this together.
Stop the blame game
Recent unfortunate events involving Homer High School students and athletes elicit several responses from community members that ranged from supportive to hostile; many seeking a scapegoat on which to place blame for the teens’ alleged inappropriate actions.
Some place the blame at the feet of the parents, questioning how any responsible parent would allow his or her child to attend such a party, or be unaware of where and what their child was doing. But it’s not that easy. Teens are frequently less than honest about what goes on in their world, convinced that parents of today have no clue what things are really like. Unless you lock your teen in his or her room, as a parent, you really have little knowledge — or say — in what he or she does all day. And, even if you have attempted to instill a strong set of values and morals in your son or daughter, that doesn’t mean they will always follow your direction.
School takes up several daylight hours, and the actions older students engage in out of class are generally not monitored. However, blaming the schools is equally as misdirected. Many schools offer a wide array of after-school and extra-curricular activities aimed at keeping kids busy and out of trouble. But school teachers and administrators can hardly be held accountable for the actions of their students.
Blaming the teens themselves is futile, as they are inexperienced and struggling to become adults with immature brains that won’t fully develop for another 4-5 years. That’s not to say they shouldn’t be held accountable. However, blame and shame rarely do anything to help a bad situation. Maybe we all should be held accountable.
Take a look around and see just what our children are being exposed to via movies, television, music and the Internet. We have opened the world of instantaneous information and gratification to them, but put nothing in place to help them filter through the garbage. They are often left to interpret what they see and hear through the media on their own, or through a peer.
And, while blaming the media will also do nothing to repair the damage that has already been done, perhaps just beginning to recognize what kind of world we have created for our children — and grandchildren — to live in would be a start.
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