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Drinking The Kool-Aid

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With the advent of the 2020 elections we sit at the threshold of a fully realized possibility, a change in direction that could provide the citizens of this great nation personal security and financial stability with economic growth for years to come.  For the middle class, it would lessen our burden and for the impoverished it would open the pathway to opportunity. At the core are fundamental principles, ideas about healthcare, education and the environment, public safety, human rights and the dignity of equality. What keeps us from enacting a lasting solution is the fear draped upon us that this is not possible.  It’s too costly.  It’s too complicated.  It’s socialism.  What are we, a nation of sissy-pants and wusses?  Cannot we affect our own future by taking control?  Are we not our brother’s keeper or is that socialism? Lincoln said that the purpose of government was to provide for its citizens that which they could not otherwise provide for themselves.  Is that not socialism?  What the hell’s wrong with socialism that we should fear it so? It is not an exclusive philosophy or governing principle.  It’s an idea with merit and has a proper place in a balanced society, democratic, capitalist or otherwise.

To that end, there is no shortage of ideas in the Democratic party, ideas on how to make our government work for people, to solve our everyday problems and prevent future ones.  These are all good ideas, ideas almost anyone can agree will benefit everyone.  And to that end there is no shortage of candidates, all gathered around the same principles, all with variant diverse solutions.  If there is a problem in any Democrat’s candidacy during this primary season, it is the manufactured objection to the idea itself, over the difference between a fundamentally correct principle and the execution of policy to enact it. Only if we can first identify the problem and agree on the rightness of the principle, can we move forward to developing a solution. But if we first decry a problem because no satisfactory solution is at hand, then we are doomed to live out our past.

The core issues are always economic.  Our leaders would have us believe that to spend money on ourselves is an extravagance. We must not allocate money for social programs because it would increase the burden on the wealthy, cripple corporate interests and deny our troops.  Rather, we should support the upper class in the hope that it will trickle down.  But there is another approach.  What if minimum wage was a living wage?  And what if childcare was provided as a right? Imagine what that would do to the economy.  The average cost of child care for a pre-schooler is $7,000 per year.  Minimum wage provides an income of roughly $15,000 per year.  After taxes and childcare that would leave about $4,000 to live on.  Working makes no sense in that equation.  No wonder our welfare rolls are so inflated.  Now what would happen if we could reduce the welfare rolls and get people working?  Hmmmm… now there’s an idea.

And what if a secondary, college education was provided?  We have to realize in this changing time that the standard 12-year high-school education is failing us. China is taking the lead on innovation and we are lacking the expertise to grow our economy through a quality trained workforce. As the father of five daughters, I know the crippling expense of a college education, expenses shared by my own ability to pay and my children’s capacity to borrow. A college education is minimally between $20,000 and $100,000 per year and in many cases upward of that. Typically, kids graduate into a stagnant job market with debts in excess of $50,000 and no job, only to move in with mom and dad and work a shit job outside of their field of study.  Where’s the future in that?

But what if the burden of providing healthcare was removed from employers?  Profitability increases and employment is encouraged. Currently the workaround is to fill jobs with part-time hourly employees to avoid providing insurance. Hire someone for less than 40 hours per week and “poof” forget about insurance overhead.  There’s always a loophole, a path to channel money back to the source. Is this our perfect world?

What if healthcare was a right, Medicare for all, universal healthcare was enacted? We could be free from the worry of the financial ruin of devastating medical outcomes.  Regular medical care can be preventative rather than remedial.  Overall medical costs would be reduced.  But the arguments against this are that it would end private insurance, or that the government is ill-equipped to handle the management of this system and costs would skyrocket.  Really?  Another argument is that you would not be able to choose your own doctor. Huh?  Who really believes this crap?  I am on Medicare and I get to choose my own doctor and while Medicare exists, so does private insurance.  Cannot the two co-exist?  Off course they can.  Let’s take the Post office as an example.  Who else can deliver daily mail at an amount roughly 47 cents or so. Opponents who favor privatization complain that it loses money, but that is a false narrative.  Profits made by the postal system are siphoned off by Congress to make it run at a loss. Furthermore, the success of the postal system did nothing to restrict or inhibit the growth of private delivery services like FedEx, UPS, DHL and the many smaller regional services. So I say, let private insurance compete for its market share against a base system that guarantees full service medical care for all. Who are we protecting, our families or an industry that makes the rules to benefit itself?

Amy Klobuchar recently appeared in a CNN Town hall.  She was great… smart, well spoken, reasonable, measured, likable, with a record of policy successes and toughness and most importantly moderate…  progressive, but not too far left, all the earmarks that say, “I have what it takes to win.  I am electable.”  Yeah, but is that enough?  Why are we to believe that our dreams are not possible and we should settle before winning, take the deal and plead out, rather than take the risk and get what we fully deserve.  Compromise before you lose all, that is the play with Amy.  So, let’s not categorize the other candidates’ ideas as looney, impractical or impossible. Let’s not admit defeat at the start.

Take Elizabeth Warren’s ideas for childcare as an example.    Here are the key points:

 

Guarantee care from birth until entering school.

Create a federal program that establishes a network of centers.

Free for families with incomes less than 200% of the poverty level.

No household would pay more than 7% of income

Partly funded by a proposed “wealth tax.”

 

This is a reasonable approach to stabilizing the workforce and promoting the economy.  It just has to be made a priority and managed as part of a balanced budget.  We need to look at all the other areas where we spend needlessly, areas like the cost of operating Air Force One as the private plane for weekly flights to Mara-Lago or the cost of a border wall that 68% of Americans don’t want.  We can’t keep losing this battle because “He” has the right, when we have the will. What we don’t have is the support of our congress, but that is changing and we need to maximize the change in 2020 enough so to support a newly elected progressive, democratic-socialist that can bring ideas into policy. The last phrase of the Gettysburg Address is: “…that a government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” The key phrase is “for the people.”  Let’s not forget that, for fear of being called a Socialist.

Also, let us realize that while our problems are complicated they seem vicious because they are intertwined. In reality, they are self-inflicted and interact chaotically in the most turbulent way.  To survive, we must guarantee an adequate food supply, sustainable energy and security through peace with other nations and our own respect for each other.  At the heart of this series of interactive issues is the weather.  Climate determines so much: crop outcomes, a food supply of fish in warming oceans, natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires, draughts and floods. Economic success depends on energy supplies and the battle over oil supply is at the heart of conflict the world over.  Fossil fuel is killing the environment and clean energy is required to sustain life on this planet.  Virtually every scientist and informed politician understands this, yet we languish in the past.  Looking backward is death.  Driving full speed on the interstate using only the rearview mirror will eventually result in a head-on. We have the technology and the means to avert the disaster that merely wearing seatbelts cannot protect us from but we need only exercise the will. Climate change is real and immediate action is required. We must demand the development of clean energy infrastructure, policy and outcome in every possible form and we must transition aggressively to vehicles that do not run on forms of fossil fuel.  We need to cut the crippling shackles of oil policy that dictate political policy and be freed to openly stand for truth, justice and human rights.  We cannot allow dictators, murderers and thugs to define our path and inform our decisions.  Saying otherwise does not make it so.

As our physical world continually changes all around us, as relationships shift and power stolen, as technology redefines the possible, we cannot “Make America Great Again” by solving new problems in an old way. What made us great was hard work, respect for our international relationships, innovation, the ability to adapt and change, and an ever vigilant watch on the integrity of our system with an eye towards compassion and tolerance.  None of these qualities reside in our current President. With 60% executive time and his disdain for reading intel briefs, his lack of prep for treaties and negotiations, he has shown his inability to apply himself to hard work.. He has also displayed nothing but disrespect for our long-time international relationships including NATO.  He despises green energy innovation and rejects climate science.  He cannot change his ways–lying, bullying and narcissistic self-serving action.  He wants all oversight on himself, his organizations and administration to cease and has demonstrated a complete lack of compassion as exemplified by his treatment of children, taken from their immigrant parents and transferred thousands of miles away to be held, many never to be returned.  This man is a leader, yes, but just what and who is he leading?  Can it be us or is it them?  Them, yes that 30%, the deplorables, as Hillary would so aptly say, those who will willingly follow him off the cliff wearing a red MAGA hat, while Trump, the divider, has a mock-bliss teenage, romantic encounter with the American Flag. Is it time yet to break out the Kool-aid?

 

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Why Overfishing is killing our oceans and what we can do about it

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“An alternative to the current system is one that balances the need for fish as a global protein source with a long-term view of the ecosystem, planning for having as many fish tomorrow as there are today and thus, a sustainable model for feeding the world and providing jobs. One way to do this would be to tie subsidies to conservation and sustainability efforts, rather than simply writing checks to large commercial fishing operations to build new boats and buy new equipment. Such a scheme would also prize smaller scale operations over larger ones. A more diversified source of the world’s fish would also be more resilient.”

By Coty Perry, Courtesy of  Your Bass Guy

The man-made problems with the ocean like acidification, plastic pollution, and overfishing have never been more serious — we’re killing our oceans and we know it.

To sum it up, I think governments aren’t doing enough to help and they’re actually contributing to overfishing through their subsidies that usually end up in the hands of big commercial fishing companies – not the small fishermen they’re meant for. I believe that technological solutions (such as Fishtek Marine) and the use of territorial use rights in fisheries management (TURF) will have a bigger impact on our oceans than our governments can and I go into detail on all this and more in my article.

Overfishing, Conservation, Sustainability, and Farmed Fish

Overfishing, Conservation, Sustainability, and Farmed Fish

As with many other aspects of government policy, overfishing and other fishing-related environmental issues are a real problem, but it’s not clear that government intervention is the solution. Indeed, it might be one of the main drivers of overfishing and other conservation and sustainability issues stemming from commercial fishing. Much like drone fishing, there are serious ethical issues of interest to the average angler.

There’s another commonality that overfishing has with environmental issues more broadly: The Western companies primarily concerned with serious efforts to curb overfishing are not the ones who are most guilty of overfishing. What this means is that the costs of overfishing are disproportionately borne by the countries least engaged in practices that are counter to efforts to make commercial fishing more sustainable while also promoting conservation of fish biodiversity.

All of these are important issues not just for commercial fishermen, but also those interested in questions of conservation and sustainability in general, as well as recreational fisherman and basically anyone who uses fish as a food source. As the ocean goes, so goes the planet, so it is of paramount importance for everyone to educate themselves on what is driving overfishing, what its consequences are, and what meaningful steps — not simply theater to feel as if “something is being done” — can be taken.

Overfishing infographic - "> 3 billion people rely on fish as their primary source of protein"

Indeed, over three billion people around the world rely on fish as their primary source of protein. About 12 percent of the world relies on fisheries in some form or another. 90 percent of these being small-scale fishermen — “think a small crew in a boat, not a ship,” using small nets or even rods, reels and lures not too different from the kind you probably use.

There are 18.9 million fishermen in the world, with 90 percent of them falling under the same small-scale fisherman rubric discussed above.

Overfishing infographic - "90% fisheries small-scale fishermen, 12% world population relies upon fisheries"

Content

Overfishing Definition: What is Overfishing?

Overfished ocean

First, take heart: As a recreational fisherman you are almost certainly not guilty of “overfishing.” This is an issue for commercial fishermen in the fishing industry who are trawling the ocean depths with massive nets to catch enough fish to make a living for themselves and their families, not the angler who enjoys a little peace and quiet on the weekends.

Overfishing is, in some sense, a rational reaction to increasing market needs for fish. Most people consume approximately twice as much fish as they did 50 years ago and there are four times as many people on earth as there were at the close of the 1960s. This is one driver of the 30 percent of commercially fished waters being classified as “overfished.” This means that the stock of available fishing waters are being depleted faster than they can be replaced.

There is a simple and straightforward definition of when an area is being “overfished” and it’s not simply about catching “too many” fish. Overfishing occurs when the breeding stock of an area becomes so depleted that the fish in the area cannot replenish themselves.

Overfishing infographic "> 80% fish caught in nets"

At best, this means fewer fish next year than there are this year. At worst, it means that a species of fish cannot be fished out of a specific area anymore. This also goes hand-in-hand with wasteful forms of fishing that harvest not just the fish the trawler is looking for, but just about every other organism big enough to be caught in a net. Over 80 percent of fish are caught in these kinds of nets but fish aren’t the only things caught in nets.

What’s more, there are a number of wide-reaching consequences of overfishing. It’s not simply bad because it depletes the fish stocks of available resources, though that certainly is one reason why it’s bad. Others include:

  • Increased Algae in the Water: Like many other things, algae is great but too much of it is very bad. When there are fewer fish in the water, algae doesn’t get eaten. This increases the acidity in the world’s oceans, which negatively impacts not only the remaining fish, but also the reefs and plankton.
  • Destruction of Fishing Communities: Overfishing can completely destroy fish populations and communities that once relied upon the fish that were there. This is particularly true for island communities. And it’s worth remembering that there are many isolated points on the globe where fishing isn’t just the driver of the economy, but also the primary source of protein for the population. When either or both of these disappear, the community disappears along with it.
  • Tougher Fishing for Small Vessels: If you’re a fan of small business, you ought to be concerned about overfishing. That’s because overfishing is mostly done by large vessels and makes it harder for smaller ones to meet their quotas. With over 40 million people around the world getting their food and livelihood from fishing, this is a serious problem.
  • Ghost Fishing: Ghost fishing refers to abandoned man-made fishing gear that is left behind. It’s believed that an estimated 25,000 nets float throughout the Northeast Atlantic. This left behind gear becomes a death trap for all marine life that swim through that area. While much of this is caused due to storms and natural disasters, much of it is the result of ignorance and neglect on behalf of commercial fishermen.
  • Species Pushed to Near Extinction: When we hear that a fish species is being depleted, we often think it’s fine because they can be found somewhere else. However, many species of fish are being pushed close to extinction by overfishing, such as several species of cod, tuna, halibut and even lobster.
  • Bycatch: If you’re old enough to remember people being concerned about dolphins caught in tuna nets, you know what bycatch is: It’s when marine life that is not being sought by commercial fishermen is caught in their nets as a byproduct. The possibility of bycatch increases dramatically with overfishing.
Overfishing infographics "20% fish in the USA lost in the supply chain"
  • Waste: Overfishing creates waste in the supply chain. Approximately 20 percent of all fish in the United States is lost in the supply chain due to overfishing. In the Third World this rises to 30 percent thanks to a lack of available freezing devices. What this means is that even though there are more fish being caught than ever, there is also massive waste of harvested fish.
  • Mystery Fish: Because of overfishing, there are a significant amount of fish at your local fish market and on the shelves of your local grocery store that aren’t what they are labelled as. Just because something says that it’s cod doesn’t mean that it actually is. To give you an idea of the scope of this problem, only 13 percent of the “red snapper” on the market is actually red snapper. Most of this is unintentional due to the scale of fishing done today, but much of it is not, hiding behind the unfortunate realities of mass scale fishing to pass off inferior products to unwitting customers.
Overfishing infographic - "fish in the Third World lost in the supply chain..."

So why is overfishing happening? There are a variety of factors driving overfishing that we will delve into here, the bird’s eye view is below.

  • Regulation: Regulations are incredibly difficult to enforce even when they are carefully crafted, which they often are not. The worst offenders have little regulations in place and none of these regulations apply in international waters, which are effectively a Wild West.
  • Unreported Fishing: Existing regulations force many fisherman to do their fishing “off the books” if they wish to turn a profit. This is especially true in developing nations.
  • Mobile Processing: Mobile processing is when fish are processed before even returning to port. They are canned while still out at sea. Canned fish is increasingly taking up the fish consumption market at the expense of fresh fish.
  • Subsidies: Anyone familiar with farm subsidies knows that these are actually bad for the production of healthy food. Subsidies for fishing are similar. They don’t generally go to small fisherman whom one would think are most in need, but rather to massive vessels doing fuel-intensive shipping.

What’s more, subsidies encourage overfishing because the money keeps flowing no matter what — the more fish you catch, the more money you get, with no caps influenced by environmental impact fishing regulation.

Indeed, according to the World Wildlife Fund, subsidies drive illegal fishing, which is closely tied with piracy, slavery and human trafficking. The University of British Columbia conducted a study that found that $22 billion (63 percent of all fishing subsidies) went toward subsidies that encourage overfishing.

Of these, the main driver of overfishing is, predictably, government subsidies. So it is worth taking a few minutes to separate that out from the rest of these issues and give it some special attention.

More on Overfishing and Government Subsidies

Overfishing - "Fishing boats on the water with asian writing on the sides"

The subsidies that drive overfishing are highly lucrative: The governments of the world are giving away over $35 billion every year to fishermen. That’s about 20 percent of the value of all the commercially caught fish in the world every year. Subsidies are often directed at reducing the costs for megafishing companies — things like paying for their massive fuel budgets, the gear they need to catch fish, or even the vessels themselves.

This effectively allows for large commercial fishing operations to take over the market or recapitalize at rates significantly below that of the market, disproportionately favoring them over their smaller competitors.

It is this advantage that drives large mega fishing companies into unsustainable fishing practices. The end result of this is not just depleted stocks, but also lower yields due to long-term overfishing, as well as lowered costs of fish at market, which has some advantages for the consumer, but also makes it significantly harder for smaller operations to turn a profit.

Such government subsidies could provide assistance to smaller fishermen, but are generally structured in a way that favors consolidation of the market and efforts counterproductive to conservation efforts.

What Role Do Farmed Fish Play?

Farmed fish

Farmed fish is a phenomenon that we take for granted today, but is actually a revolutionary method of bringing fish out of the water and onto our dinner tables. Originally, it was seen as a way of preserving the population of wild fish. The thinking was this: We could eat fish from fish farming while the wild stock replenished itself.

At the same time, communities impacted by overfishing would find new ways to get income in an increasingly difficult market. Third world countries would have their protein needs met in a manner that did not negatively impact the environment. It was considered a big, easy win for the entire world.

The reality, as is often the case, turned out to be a little different. Crowding thousands of fish together in small areas away from their natural habitat turns out to have a number of detrimental effects. Waste products, primarily fish poop, excess food and dead fish, begin to contaminate the areas around fish farms. What’s more, like other factory farms, fish farms require lots of pesticides and drugs thanks to the high concentrations of fish and the parasites and diseases that spread in these kinds of areas.

Predictably, the chemicals used in making farmed fish possible are not contained in the areas where they are initially used. They spread into the surrounding waters and then simply become part of the water of the world, building up over time. In many cases, farmed fish are farmed in areas that are already heavily polluted. This is where the admonition to avoid eating too much fish for fear of contaminants like mercury has come from.

Overfishing infographic - "seafood globally is feed for farmed fish"

What’s more, the fish that we eat are not the only fish that are living at the fisheries. Often times, the preferred fish of the human consumer are carnivores that must eat lots of other fish to get up to an appropriate size to be part of the market. These fish, known as “reduction fish” or “trash fish” require the same kind of treatment that the larger fish they feed do.

All told, it takes 26 pounds of feed to produce a single pound of tuna, making farmed fishing an incredibly inefficient way of bringing food to market. Indeed, 37 percent of all seafood globally is now fed for farmed fish, up dramatically from 7.7 percent in 1948.

Overfishing infographic "26 pounds of feed = 1 pound of tuna"

Perhaps worst of all, farmed fish simply do not have the same nutritional value as their wild counterparts, losing almost all of the Omega-3 fatty acids that make fish such a prized part of the modern diet.

Salmon, for example, is only healthy when it is caught in the wild. Farmed salmon is essentially a form of junk food. This is in large part due to the diet that the fish eat in fish farms, which is high in fat and uses soy as a primary source of protein. Toxins at the farms concentrate in the fatty tissue of the salmon. Concentrations of the harmful chemical PCB are found in concentrations eight times higher in farmed fish than traditionally caught wild salmon.

The pesticides, of course, are not used for no reason, but because of the proliferation of pests due to the high concentrations of fish in the fisheries. Sea lice are one example of such pests, which can eat a live salmon down to the bone.

These pests do not stay in the fisheries, but quickly spread to the surrounding waters and infect wild salmon as well as their farmed counterparts. The pests aren’t the only ones escaping: Farmed fish often escape from their habitats and compete with the native fish for resources, becoming an invasive species.

Subsidies vary from one country to another and specific statistics about how much goes to fish farms is generally not forthcoming. But fish farms effectively move the problem of overfishing from the wild oceans and into more enclosed areas. This does not solve any of the problems of overfishing. It merely creates new ones with no less impact on the environment.

Which Countries Are Overfishing?

Countries that are overfishing

As stated above, the main offenders with regard to overfishing tend to not be developed Western countries, but countries from the undeveloped world and parts of Asia. Sadly, the United States is the only Western nation that appeared on a “shame list” put out by Pew Charitable Trusts. This is known as the Pacific Six. The other members include Japan, Taiwan, China, South Korea and Indonesia.

Overfishing infographic - "80% world's bluefin tuna"

The list only refers to overfishing with regard to bluefin tuna, but it provides a snapshot of the face of overfishing internationally. Overfishing facts say that these six countries are fishing 80 percent of the world’s bluefin tuna. These countries took collectively 111,482 metric tons of bluefin tuna out of the waters in 2011 alone.

However, when it comes to harmful subsidies there is a clear leader: China. A University of British Columbia study found that China provided more in the way of harmful subsidies encouraging overfishing than any other country on earth — $7.2 billion in 2018 or 21 percent of all global support. What’s more, subsidies that are more beneficial than harmful dropped by 73 percent.

Overfishing infographic " 111,482 tons of bluefin tuna in 2011"

The negative effects of overfishing are not taking place far away and in very abstract ways. They are causing communities right here in the United States to collapse. In the early 1990s, overfishing of cod caused entire communities in New England to collapse. Once this happens, it is very difficult to reverse. The effects are felt by the marine ecosystem but also by the people whose livelihoods depend on fishing.

Another example of economic instability is the Japanese fish market. Japanese fishermen are able to catch far less fish than they used to, meaning that the Japanese are now eating more imported fish, often from the United States, than ever before. This creates a perverse situation where America exports most of its best salmon to other countries, but consumes some of the worst farmed salmon in the world today.

Just How Bad Is Overfishing?

Surely overfishing can’t be that bad, right? The seas are just filled with tons of fish and it would take us forever to overfish to the point that they began to disappear entirely, right?

Fish on dry land

Think again. Overfishing is happening at biologically unsustainable levels. Pacific bluefin tuna, the type of fish discussed in the section above, has seen a 97 percent decline in overall population. This is important because the Pacific bluefin tuna is one of the most important predators in the ocean food chain. If it goes extinct the entire aquaculture will be irreparably disturbed.

The first fish that disappear from an ecosystem are larger fish with a longer lifespan and reach reproductive age later in life. These are also the most desirable fish on the open market. When these fish disappear, the destructive fishing operations do not leave the area: They simply move down the food chain to less desirable catches like squid and sardines. This is called “fishing down the web” and it slowly destroys the entire ecosystem removing first the predator fish and then the prey.

There are broader effects on the ecosystem beyond just the fish, effects that resonate throughout the entire Atlantic and Pacific ocean. Many of the smaller fish eat algae that grows on coral reefs. When these fish become overfished, the algae grows uncontrolled and the reefs suffer as a result. That deprives many marine life forms of their natural habitat, creating extreme disruption in the ocean ecosystem.

What Are Some Alternatives to Government-Driven Overfishing?

Protecting fish

While there are certainly policy solutions to rampant overfishing, not all solutions will come from government. For example, there are emerging technological solutions that will make bycatching and other forms of waste less prevalent and harmful.

Simple innovations based on existing technologies, such as Fishtek Marine seek to save sea mammals from the nets of commercial fishermen while also increasing profit margins for these companies in a win-win scenario. Their device is small and inexpensive and thus does not present an undue burden to either the large-scale commercial fishing vessels or small fishermen looking to eke out a living in an increasingly difficult market.

We must also recognize that current regulations simply do not work. In one extreme case, governments restricted fishing for certain forms of tuna for three days a year. This did absolutely nothing for the population of tuna, as the big commercial fishing companies simply employed methods to harvest as many fish in three days as they were previously getting in any entire year.

This, in turn, led to a greater amount of bycatch and waste. Because the fishing operations didn’t have the luxury of time to ensure that they were only catching what they sought to catch, their truncated fishing season prized quantity over quality with predictable results.

Quotas, specifically the “individual transferable quota” scheme used by New Zealand and many other countries does not seem to work as intended for a number of reasons. First, these quotas are, as the name might suggest, transferable. This means that little fishermen might consider it a better deal to simply sell their quota to a large commercial fishing operation rather than go to work for themselves and we’re back to square one.

More generally speaking, quotas seem to be a source of waste. Here’s how they work: A fishing operation is given a specific tonnage of fish from a specific species that they can catch. However, not all fish are created equally. So when commercial fishing operations look at their catch and see that some of it is of higher quality than others, they discard the lower-quality fish in favor of higher-quality fish creating large amounts of waste. These discards can sometimes make up 40 percent of the catch.

An alternative to the current system is one that balances the need for fish as a global protein source with a long-term view of the ecosystem, planning for having as many fish tomorrow as there are today and thus, a sustainable model for feeding the world and providing jobs. One way to do this would be to tie subsidies to conservation and sustainability efforts, rather than simply writing checks to large commercial fishing operations to build new boats and buy new equipment. Such a scheme would also prize smaller scale operations over larger ones. A more diversified source of the world’s fish would also be more resilient.

One such alternative is called territorial use rights in fisheries management (TURF). In this case, individual fishermen or collectives of them are provided with long-term rights to fish in a specific area. This means that they have skin in the game. They don’t want to overfish the area because to do so would be to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. So they catch as many fish as is sustainable and no more. They have a vested, long-term interest in making sure that there is no overfishing in the fisheries that have been allotted to them.

Not only does this make sustainable fishing more attractive, it also means that there is less government bureaucracy and red tape involved. Fishermen with TURF are allowed to catch as much as they like. It is assumed that sustainability is baked into the equation because the fishermen with rights want to preserve the fishing not just for the next year, but for the next generation and the one after that. This model has been used successfully by Chile, one of the most economically free countries in the world (more economically free, in fact, than the United States), to prevent overfishing and create sustainability. It is a market-driven model that prizes small producers with skin in the game over massive, transnational conglomerates with none.

Belize, Denmark and even the United States are other countries who have used TURF, with significantly positive results.

While it’s nice to support the little guy over Big Fishing and we certainly support sustainability and conservation efforts, there’s another, perhaps more important and direct reason to support reforms designed to eliminate overfishing: food security. When bluefin tuna, for example, goes extinct, it’s not coming back. That means no more cans of tuna on the shelves of your local supermarket.

That’s a big deal for people in developed, first world countries, but a much bigger deal in developing countries. When major protein sources are depleted forever, there will be intensified competition for the resources that remain. This also creates unrest in the countries that are less able to compete in a global market due to issues of capital and scale. Even if you’re not concerned with overfishing, overfishing and the problems it creates will soon be on your doorstep unless corrective measures are taken before it’s too late.

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Editorials

Danny Schechter Inspired millions (including the founders of this network)

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Danny schechter, "The News Dissector"

In March of 2002, at an event focusing on arts and media at a time of globalized consolidation, some of the Mobilized founding team took part in a conversation focusing on what we can do to preserve democracy and safeguard the health and well-being of people and the planet. Mobilized is proud to present the keynote by media dissector Danny Schechter whose words of wisdom inspired and empowered the creation of this network.

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A note from the Publisher

New Report by National Academy of Sciences (USA): Social Media is Hazardous to Your Health

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Why some biologists and ecologists think social media is a risk to humanity

At a time of information overload, when most people can’t decipher truth from fiction, when our world and corporate leaders bow down to the corporate interests that are destroying all life as we know it for their short term personal gains, there are billions of social media accounts attached to mechanisms that continue to amplify misinformation and corporate propaganda. All of this inflicts tremendous damage to all life and our life support systems.

The report is attached below.  In Summary, it states:

Collective behavior provides a framework for understanding how the actions and properties of groups emerge from the way individuals generate and share information. In humans, information flows were initially shaped by natural selection yet are increasingly structured by emerging communication technologies. Our larger, more complex social networks now transfer high-fidelity information over vast distances at low cost. The digital age and the rise of social media have accelerated changes to our social systems, with poorly understood functional consequences. This gap in our knowledge represents a principal challenge to scientific progress, democracy, and actions to address global crises. We argue that the study of collective behavior must rise to a “crisis discipline” just as medicine, conservation, and climate science have, with a focus on providing actionable insight to policymakers and regulators for the stewardship of social systems.

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