Democracy for Fisheries

The issue of seafood fraud is a symptom of California’s management system as a whole being dominated by political action campaign funds that are controlled by large super-stakeholders like Oceana. The large save-the-ocean groups that promote policies for sustainable fisheries have rationalized their use of political campaigns as the way to reform the fisheries.

As a result, the programs they create are based in grants that do not consider the infrastructure needed to maintain structural sustainability or community development as an ethical choice. So our fisheries in California are being shut down, and their market is now based in importing fish. The large save-the-ocean groups have outsourced our fisheries, and now they are creating management gridlock in the development of the state’s ecosystem-based approach.

It is a predatory culture that cannot even take the time to set up metric systems and dedicated funding programs to monitor its experiments with us, the fishermen.

In reality the local level of environmental grass roots have to compete with the campaign power structure. At the same time these political pressure groups actively use their campaign funds to manipulate the stakeholder involvement process.

They create political patronage systems that use science as a mask for reallocation of the resource into private government systems. The elite groups of collaborations reward submission to the market.

Along with the rush to close areas has been a similar campaign to create catch shares of access to the fish; this is the opening for serious social distortion of fishery objectives.

Fortunately for us, the ocean is resilient, and so are its people. I voted for Lois Capps because she opposed the war in Iraq. I continue to do so because of that one stand that was right.

Maybe down the road she will oppose the war on the fishing fleet here at home.

I will go by her office with a flower for her to put in the barrel of the fish guns next time I am in town. Tell her about my new project. It is a fisheries democracy project.

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