Quotes of Note
Every once in a while we come across words written by people involved in fisheries issues that, for one reason or another, we think are at the very least worth drawing your attention to. Some of these quotes might be included for the wisdom that they impart or information they contain, some for their entertainment value, some because they illustrate various facets of the human condition so well, and some because they just - alone or in aggregate - seem so darned silly. We'll leave it up to you, the reader, to decide which - if any - of these categories the particular words fit into. 

If you have any favorite quotations that you feel would add to this page, please email them to us using the following (and please include the appropriate citations and a link if it is from a website): 

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Perhaps being a "Good  Mariner" has a different meaning for SewWeb spokesteam members or the Times' editorial staff??? 

According to SeaWeb spokesperson and Audobon Living Oceans Program Director Carl Safina, Ph.D. "Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Lines, being good mariners, have announced that they will deftly steer clear of swordfish; they've canceled 20 tons of orders." (Fish Market Mutiny, New York Times, April, 14, 1998Link to Times op-ed piece) 

"A U.S. judge Wednesday ordered Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, the world's second largest cruise line, to pay a $1 million fine for dumping oily bilge waste into the ocean and lying about it, a U.S. prosecutor said. 

The penalty was part of a plea-bargain agreement reached in June that will see the company pay a total of $9 million, the largest pollution fines ever assessed against a cruise company, for dumping oil into Caribbean and Atlantic waters, Asst. U.S. Attorney Tom Watts-Fitzgerald said." (from a Reuters release posted on InfoBeat on September 16, 1998Link to full text of Reuters release) 

"Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. , the world's second-largest cruise line, was ordered Wednesday to pay $8 million for dumping oil and lying to the U.S. Coast Guard about it, the Justice Department said. The sentencing in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was in addition to a $1 million fine levied in a Miami court last month. The two court cases were part of an overall plea bargain by Royal Caribbean that involves five years of monitoring the line's environmental conduct. Royal Caribbean pleaded guilty in June to eight felony counts in a pretrial agreement with prosecutors on cases brought in Puerto Rico and Florida. The Justice Department said even after that pact there were new violations in July involving tampering with oil limiting sensors and false statements in an oil log book aboard Royal Caribbean's Nordic Empress cruise ship. The cruise line said it had reported the July incident to the government itself after an employee noticed two engineers tampering with the equipment." (from a Reuters release posted on InfoBeat on October 14, 1998Link to full text of Reuters release) 

(Information about the swordfish consumer boycott that Royal Caribbean is supporting is available in a special swordfish section Link to swordfish section )

But then again, maybe a "Good  Mariner" is known by the causes he or she supports ??? 

From a press release by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. circulated by PR Newswire on Thursday October 1, 1998: "In the two years since its launch, The Ocean Fund now has donated $1,382,000 on behalf of Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises to 22 organizations working to protect the marine environment....Previous recipients have included The Nature Conservancy, National Audubon Society’s Living Oceans program and EarthWatch Institute" (for the full release Link to full Royal Caribbean release)  

Considering the phenomenal growth in popularity of ocean cruises - and the explosion in the construction of 1000 foot long liners carrying 3,000 guests and 1,000 crew - we wonder what the environmental impacts of these floating behemouths are on the fragile tropical reef ecosystems that Royal Caribbean seems so intent on protecting. 

While Ms. Rimel might understand Jack McDavid's point, she isn't letting it stand in the way of the multi-billion dollar Pew Charitable Trusts' assault on the U.S. swordfish fishermen who are fishing in accordance with international and federal regulations. 
At Jack's Firehouse restaurant in Fairmount, they serve their firm, succulent swordfish steaks with mango rum sauce -- and a big dollop of political incorrectness.  

Proprietor Jack McDavid is perhaps the nation's most outspoken opponent of an effort underway by an organization called SeaWeb, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, to get chefs to drop swordfish from their menus.  

"I saw it coming," he says of the "Give the Swordfish a Break!" campaign. "In fact, I smelled it coming . . . and it smelled fishy."  

He contends that the campaign won't save any swordfish and could hurt his friends, "the boys who bring in the fish."  

Says Rebecca Rimel, president of Pew, whose offices are a few blocks south of McDavid's restaurant: "I understand his point." from Steadying the scales of justice deep in the waters of controversy - Our appetite for correctness may filet a vulnerable livelihood (The Philadelphia Inquirer, 14 August, 1998, Op-Ed Page) by David Boldt

Much more information about this misdirected consumer boycott is available in a special swordfish section Link to swordfish section 
"We have a global crisis needing revolution, not consensual fiddling."
"The recent decades' catastrophes in ocean fisheries are among many signs of lack of societal will in resource management contexts. Although abundant theory, and sometimes adequate information from fisheries activities exist, continuous surprises and stock failures provides impetus to revise not only the basic theory of re-source management, but even the philosophies of conventional fisheries management practice. Gross perturbations of ecosystem structures due to fishing have often been denied. Habitat degradation and losses, along with declining natural biodiversity define the principal issues of anadromous and estuarine species. Uncertainties of context-free fisheries stock assessments form the bases of legal contentions. Pitting government science against industry lawyers is clearly ineffective. Beyond CPUE, Yield-per-Recruit, VPA, and their associated faulty assumptions, necessary information need to be defined and integrated into ecosystem-wide monitoring, resource assessments, and management processes. We have a global crisis needing revolution, not consensual fiddling." from Its About Time: Rethinking Fisheries Management (presented at the Second World Fisheries Congress, Brisnane, Australia, August, 1996) by Gary D. Sharp, California State University, Monterey Bay and Center for Climate/Ocean Resources Study. [Link to full paper link to the complete paper]  
Dr. Sharp's view are - somewhat unavoidably, considering the high profile, dismal performance of our fisheries management system up until now - starting to attract the attention they so fully deserve. 
Even the New York Times isn't immune from spinning information to reflect the prevailing "doom and gloom" view of fisheries 
"...by 1988, the National Marine Fisheries Service declared that every fish species along the Atlantic Coast, and especially the Northeast, was fully exploited or overharvested." from Giving a New Generation a Chance to Go Fishing (August 23, 1998 Outdoors column) by Nicholas Karas. 
If The National Marine Fisheries Service ever declared this, we'd love to know where and when. While it's difficult to find any hard numbers, there are without question thousands of species of fish found in the waters off the Atlantic coast. Of those thousands perhaps fifty are caught by recreational anglers and working fishermen with any regularity. Of those, some are overexploited, some are fully exploited and some are underexploited. The reality is that the vast majority of fish species never have been, aren't now and most probably will never be the target of sport angling or commercial fishing. But why should anything like biological realities interfere with the point a columnist is trying to make, even in the New York Times? 
Pretending it's so probably lets Gareth Porter, the author of the study, sleep a little more soundly.... 
"Now, as fish supplies shrink and demand rises, fishermen can maintain their incomes despite catching fewer fish." from Reduce Surplus In Fishing Fleet, Wildlife Group Recommends (August 23, 1998 New York Times article) by The Associated Press.  
but with the increasing globalization of the seafood industry it isn't anywhere near an accurate statement. As any serious seafood consumer can attest, in spite of all of the "sky is falling in the world's fisheries" rhetoric, the price of seafood isn't increasing at any greater rate than anything else. As a matter of fact, the working fishermen on the East Coast are probaly receiving less per pound for the same species they are landing today than they were ten years ago.
Maybe if all three were Ph.D.s. the fish could have gotten measured properly 
"I'm sure there's people out there who would like to think I'm a total hypocrite.... Such is not the case," Safina said on Tuesday. 
"We were trolling on a Sunday afternoon," Mr. Safina said. "It was rough and crowded. I had two guys on the deck - one is a Ph.D., one is going to be - and a ruler, and a fish. I said to myself, 'Do I need to leave the wheel to check the fish?' We were pulled over by the Coast Guard. They found the short fish. I turned to David and said, 'How could this happen?'" from AN INCH THAT MEANT A LOT by Russell Drumm in the East Hampton (NY) Star 
According to the article Dr. Safina, Audobon employee and recipient of a Pew Trusts award for his contributions to "saving the oceans," was stopped by the Coast Guard with an illegal striped bass on his boat (in the interests of striped bass conservation, New York has in place minimum size and bag limits), was ticketed, pleaded guilty and was fined. Dr. Safina is often critical (see below) of various segments of the commercial fishing industry and the fisheries management system, suggesting that they aren't interested enough in conservation. 
The fishermen find the practice as repugnant as Dr. Safina does, but, in spite of the fact that none of them (that we know of) are Ph.D.s, they are trying to do something positive to end it. 
"Longliners in the American Atlantic discard, dead, about 40 percent of the swordfish they catch -- the fish are too small to sell. In 1996 Atlantic swordfishers dumped 40,000 dead juvenile swordfish. Like a maladaptive parasite that kills its own host, longline depletion caused the amount of East Coast swordfish brought to port to plummet almost 60 percent from 1989 to 1996." (from an Op-ed piece by the Audobon Society's Carl Safina in the April 14, 1998 New York Times)  
Those discarded small fish aren't "too small to sell" because of the demands of the market but because of the regulations that are in effect. They are termed "Regulatory Discards" and their waste is required by the swordfish management plan. The fishermen have been trying for years - with major opposition from the anti-commercial fishing activists in the environmental and recreational fishing communities - to keep those that are landed dead and donate them to food banks or other charitable organizations when they return to port. 
[Link to NJ FishNet on Swordfish to a NJ FishNet addressing the swordfish situation]
Ultimately they begin bleeding comisery for sacrificed fish....
The author, while pondering the removal of an fisheries management official, suggests he was the victim of people afflicted with "....what was known in government circles as the Flipper Phenomenon. The affliction was named for the cuddly dolphin star of the television series. Veteran fisheries managers recognized this Flippercosis first by a behavioral aberration; the projection of a mystical innocence, a martyrdom, on the fishes of the sea. 

It was the Flipper phenomenon that was responsible, in part, for having slowed the last vestiges of whaling. But beginning in about 1988, the sorrow spread to the lowly fish, a major source of protein to half the world. Thus began a strange and zealous time. 

It began in the United States, where, for one thing, fish as food to be hankered after has always been a relatively foreign concept, except on the coasts. A ranking member of the National Marine Fisheries Service once tried to explain the Flipper Phenomenon by theorizing that all peoples live with, in fact need, a shared guilt that defines their culture. Former empires like Spain, Germany, and Japan have a history of conquest, genocide, and conquest-lost to look back upon. For them, fish come guilt-free. 

Americans, according to his view, have never lost an empire per se, but spend their regret on the loss of their once-rich natural resources. All we've got to remember is a huge pile of buffalo skins somewhere is the way he put it. What he meant, I think, is we've killed more buffalo than Sioux so our guilt naturally flows toward animals. 

In any case, Flipperholics appear to be created when ordinary persons catch a glimpse of the huge and growing human appetite and the abatoir of corresponding size, through a crack in their society's homey kitchen door. That is, when they sense there are too many of us. Ultimately they begin bleeding comisery for sacrificed fish...." 

The above, taken from Russell Drumm's In the Slick of the Cricket [Link to In the Slick of the Cricket review],  proposes one possible explanation for the  puzzling fervor that some people are willing to invest in the plight of sea creatures that are considered somewhat lacking in appeal to much of the rest of the world.
...but should that be the full extent of their management efforts? 
"No other parameter of such ecological importance has been changed so drastically in such a short period of time by human activities as dissolved oxygen contents in the world’s oceans," said Robert J. Diaz, a researcher at the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences and president of the Atlantic Estuarine Research Society. (from the New Orleans Times Picayune's The Dead Sea article in the Oceans of Trouble series Link to Oceans of Trouble Dead Sea article) 
‘‘One reason fish management spends a lot of effort on controlling fishing is that’s what the law allows fish managers to control. That has the most immediate impact, and that’s what the public is most concerned about,’’ said Bradford Brown, director of the Southeast Regional Science Center of the Fisheries Service, who is also an expert on ecosystem modeling. [Link to Brad Brown's quote] 
Our nation's coastal areas are in crisis, and the nation's primary ocean agency plans to do something about it. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is leading a major effort to identify the key coastal and marine ecosystem problems and solutions with a project called the "State of the Coast Report. "There is an urgent need to nail down the causes and extent of the problems that plague our coastal areas so solutions can be found," said NOAA Administrator Dr. D. James Baker. [Link to coastal deterioration release] 
It can stretch for 7,000 square miles off the coast of Louisiana, a vast expanse of ocean devoid of the region's usual rich bounty of fish and shrimp, its bottom littered with the remains of crabs and worms unable to flee its suffocating grasp. This is the Gulf of Mexico's "dead zone," which last summer reached the size of the state of New Jersey....The trouble with the dead zone is that it lacks oxygen, scientists say, apparently because of pollution in the form of excess nutrients flowing into the gulf from the Mississippi River. Animals in this smothering layer of water near the bottom of the sea must flee or perish. [Link to dead zone article] 
"We're seeing more and more pressures on our coasts," (NOAA Administrator Dr. D. James) Baker said. "Fish populations have declined dramatically in coastal areas, the major fisheries habitat. We're seeing the chemistry of the water changing, as the amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus are getting higher and higher. Last year, we identified 11 new species of toxic organisms in the coastal areas of the United States because the chemistry is changing." Baker said more people are moving to coastal areas, with about half of Americans living within an hour's drive of ocean shores. [Link to Baker quote] 
In spite of a large and increasing amount of evidence to the contrary, anti-commercial fishing interests continue to argue that too much commercial fishing pressure is responsible for virtually all of the problems in our fisheries and that the solution is to drastically reduce the effort. 
Canada's ambassador for the environment has a grim outlook on world fish stocks.
John Fraser says the number of fish is declining and it's not just over-fishing, but something environmental that's killing the fish in the ocean.  

He says unless the trend is reversed, coho salmon will become extinct.  

Fraser adds it's not just Canadian fish, it seems the whole life system of the world's oceans is coming apart environmentally.  

And Fraser says the problems aren't being made up by Greenpeace.  

He says political rhetoric is putting the best spin on the world's environmental troubles.  

Broadcast News (CKWX) February 16, 1998 VANCOUVER 
Is a Boeing 747 bigger than a breadbox?
From The Fish Crisis in Time Magazine’s September 1, 1997 issue: “...computerized ships as large as football fields. Their nets--wide enough to swallow a dozen Boeing 747s....”  

From A SeaWeb website background article World’s Imperiled Fish by Carl Safina originally published in Scientific American “...and bag-shaped trawl nets large enough to engulf twelve Boeing 747 jetliners.” [Link to Carl Safina's article at the SeaWeb site 

From the Greenpeace web page Amazing Facts About The Global Fishing Crisis: “One of the world's biggest trawl nets could encircle more than a dozen ‘jumbo jet’ Boeing 747 aircraft at its opening.” [Link to Greenpeace's Amazing Facts About the Global Fishing Crisis page 

From a U.N. “Backgrounder” for Earth Summit +5 - Special Session of the General Assembly to review and appraise the implementation of Agenda 21; The Agreement on High Seas Fishing - An Update: “The most notorious nonselective equipment includes nets large enough to envelop twelve 747 airliners”  [Link to UN's Agreement on High Seas Fishing 

From Vacuuming The Seas by Dick Russell in the July/August 1996 E/The Environmental Magazine: “At sea 200 miles southwest of Iceland last summer, the crew of a super-trawler big enough to contain a dozen Boeing 747 jumbo jets.... Each ship was trawling nets with opening circumferences of almost two miles; that's the equivalent of 10 New York City blocks wide by two Empire State Buildings high.” [Link to E/The Environmental Magazine's website] 

From Dr. Sylvia Earle’s preface to the National Resource Defense Council’s February, 1997 report Hook, Line and Sinking, the crisis in marine fisheries: “...trawlers large enough to contain several 747 aircraft....”  

From The Vegetarian Winter 1994/95 on the Animal Rights Resource Web site: “Fishermen use some dastardly tricks to catch their pound of flesh. Legal drift nets are an incredible 2.5 kilometres in length, large enough to trap 12 Boeing 747 jets, but fishing boats are often suspected of using even bigger nets.” [] 

From the Chicago Tribune on January 27, 1998 in an article by Joshua Reichert of the Pew Charitable Trusts "...huge factory trawlers that use environmentally destructive fishing technologies. Among these technologies are giant nets with mouths large enough to swallow several 747 jumbo jets...." (Thanks to Tana McHale by way of Teresa Platt for this addition to our 747 sightings list)  

The use - some might argue overuse - of fishing boats or nets with Boeing's flagship in anti-commercial fishing arguments is somewhat puzzling, both from a "now where did that come from?" as well as a "do all of these people think that much alike?" perspective. Considering that it is now the focus of Hollywood's marketing muscle as well as something big that, unlike the 747's, actually belongs in the ocean, we're anxiously awaiting the first "...large enough to swallow (or trap, envelop, engulf, contain, surround, or consume) a baker's dozen Titanics."
Is that 9.6 billion lined up nose to tail or stacked like flap jacks?
(Alternative heading: How many fish would it take to fill a 747?)
"In the Gulf of Mexico alone, offshore shrimpboats discarded 9.6 billion fish in a single year. That's enough fish to reach the moon and back twice with enough left over to more than circle the equator - and that's just 13 species out of more than 100 species in the bycatch. A more recent study revised the bycatch figure. We now know that just two species in the Gulf shrimp bycatch total about 16 billion fish." (Courtesy of Mike Leech, President of the International Gamefish Association in a press release dated January 12, 1998)   
For some reason these kinds of statements always manage to leave out facts that might more fully explain the situations they are trying to draw attention to.  

For example, most boney fishes lay from tens or hundreds of thousands to millions of eggs every year. In no species does the survival of these eggs to adulthood reach anything approaching 00.0001%. The immature fish killed as bycatch aren't at all likely to become your dinner, some sportsman's trophy or the mothers or fathers of the next generation. Further, fish that are killed incidentally aren't wasted any more than a small fish that dies of "natural" causes is wasted, but immediately become food for other sea creatures - fish, shellfish, turtles and marine mammals. 

Or from another perspective, the area of the Gulf of Mexico is 619,000 square miles, almost 400 million acres. Mr. Leech's 16 billion sound like an awful lot of fish, even without his vivid lunar imagery. But, considering the entire Gulf of Mexico, that's an average of 40 fish per acre, a figure that doesn't seem quite as dramatic as 16 billion does. And the economic impact of the shrimp fishery they are "casualities" of is far from trivial. Quoting from the United Nation's FAO websight [Link to FAO Area 31 Web page] "In 1994 the total shrimp catch from the region (FAO Statistical Area 31) was over 160,000 t. Of this, and including aquaculture, the USA accounted for over 100,000 t. Other major producers included Mexico (23,000 t)...." Figure out what those 240 million pounds of shrimp are worth to the economy of the Gulf states and of Mexico and take into consideration the fact that if those 100,000 tons of shrimp weren't produced domestically they would be imported, adding a couple of billion dollars to our trade deficit [Link to NJ FishNet 6for a discussion of the impact of seafood production on our balance of trade]. 

According to the National Marine Fisheries Service (in a 1996 report), in 1993 86% of stocks of known status were considered fully or overutilized. According to the same agency (in a 1997 report), in 1997 35% of stocks of known status were considered to be at or approaching the overfished condition. 
"In 1993, of the 163 U.S. fisheries whose biological status could be assessed, 40% were classified as overutilized and 43% were fully utilized" From the introduction to Economic Status of U.S. Fisheries 1996, published by National Marine Fisheries Service [available as downloadable Adobe Acrobat files Link to NMFS download page] 

“Based on the criteria specified in the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the Report on the Status of Fisheries finds that 86 species are listed as overfished, 183 species are listed as not overfished, and 10 species are considered to be approaching an overfished condition; for 448 species, the status relative to overfishing is unknown.  From the Report on Status of Fisheries and Identification of Overfished Stocks [Link to Status of Fisheries report to Congress] that the National Marine Fisheries Service submitted to Congress in 1997. 

These quotes illustrate one of the most confusing aspects of fisheries management today. The same agency that reported the year before last that 86% of the fish stocks they had adequate information on were being fished at or beyond their level of full utilization. However, only a year later the same agency indicated in a report to Congress that only 35% of the species it had adequate information about were at or approaching the overfished level. Looking at these two statements, how can we determine 1) the overall "health" of our fisheries, or 2) the performance of the National Marine Fisheries Service. It appears as if both are improving significantly, yet we hear nothing from either the agency or any other organizations involved in "saving our fisheries" in support of this seemingly obvious conclusion.  

Is the Pew Charitable Trust's SeaWeb as objective as its spokesperson? 
“I never eat anyone I know personally,….I wouldn’t eat a grouper any more than I’d eat a cocker spaniel....You know, fish are sensitive, they have personalities...." Sylvia Earle in a New York Times Magazine profile on June 23, 1991. Ms. Earle is currently the "voice for the oceans" for SeaWeb. 
In its own words “SeaWeb is a multmedia public education project designed to raise awareness of the world ocean and the life within it. We aim to provide information and opinion from a broad spectrum of sources to help us all become more connected and involved in the life of the sea. SeaWeb's approach is objective but not neutral - our bias is to protect the living ocean.”
The livelihood hasn't changed all that much....
"Commercial fishing is much more than numbers of dollars, numbers of men, numbers of fish. Anyone who strolls down to the docks recognizes that. The average visitor quite likely wouldn't know a craoker from a cod or a sea robin from a sea bass, but that in no way impairs the enjoyment of the docks. On those wharves there is all the romance that so many hope to find near the sea, because fishing is about as close as a man can get these days to earning his livelihood as his forefathers did through countless centuries." From The New Jersey Shore, written by John T. Cunningham and published by Rutgers University Press in 1957.  
....but it seems as if the way some people look at commercial fishermen, and commercial fishing, might have. 
It's going to take some reaching to blame this on commercial fishing!
"It can stretch for 7,000 square miles off the coast of Louisiana, a vast expanse of ocean devoid of the region's usual rich bounty of fish and shrimp, its bottom littered with the remains of crabs and worms unable to flee its suffocating grasp. This is the Gulf of Mexico's "dead zone," which last summer reached the size of the state of New Jersey....  

The dead zone, researchers say, is emblematic of the growing ills suffered by the planet's seas. Earlier this month, hundreds of scientists, marking 1998 as the international Year of the Ocean, warned that unless action is taken, overfishing, coastal development, and pollution will multiply the kinds of problems that already plague the gulf."  From A 'Dead Zone' Grows in the Gulf of Mexico by Carol Kaesuk Yoon in the January 20, 1998 New York Times. 

This article points out a potentially devastating assault on the Gulf of Mexico, possibly related  to the outbreak of the so-called "Killer Algae" Pfiesteria [Link to NJ FishNet on Pfiesteria] that plagued some of the estuaries on the East Coast this past summer. It's kind of hard to imagine how overfishing could "multiply" the kinds of problems that kill everything in 7,000 square miles of Gulf waters.    
[Link to full article to the full article]