Sunday, 17 July 2016

ENGOs and Foundations next attempt to halt fishing - Déjà vu all over again

Back in 2002, when various groups and people had figured out that the creation of things called marine protected areas (MPAs) could be sold politically as a mechanism for “saving the oceans,” the people at the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Conservation Law Foundation hired a marketing firm, Edge Research, to demonstrate that New Englanders and Maritime Canadians would be firmly behind using them to put even more fishermen out of work. They used what they termed “public opinion polling” to demonstrate this. I devoted a couple of thousand words to a critique on this exercise, and that FishNet is available at

Replies from Sara Clark Stuart at the Conservation Law Foundation and from Lisa Dropkin at Edge Research (to which I added additional comments) are at http://www.AnnotatedDropkinMemo.pdf.

Well, borrowing from a line made popular by the late Heather O’Rourke in the movie Poltergeist II, they’re back! Only this time they’re trying to convince the Obama White House that two areas off the New England coast are deserving of protection in perpetuity by being designated as National Monuments. Needless to say, their campaign to do this comes with the to be expected major PR campaign, getting as much mileage as possible from what appears to be saturation-level social media manipulation and another Edge Research “strategic marketing survey.”

One of the more clever things in this most recent bout of “market research” was the lumping of mining, drilling and fishing together. This seems to me to be tantamount to asking people how they feel about crimes committed by “murderers, rapists and shop lifters.” After the recent (and very possibly still ongoing) BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico we all have a pretty accurate idea of what the potential downsides are to drilling in the oceans, and who hasn’t seen pictures of huge open pit mines (if you are one of the few who hasn’t, Google “open pit mine” and click on images)? Not in our ocean, huh?

But can anyone make a rational connection between mining, drilling and fishing? Is there any comparison between the gross negligence practiced by our federal regulators and the offshore oil industry and a fleet of fishing boats working sustainably to provide our consumers with healthful seafood? Can tearing down mountains and creating holes that rival the Grand Canyon be equated with the “damage” done by hooks and nets? Not in the real world, for sure. But in the fantasy ocean world that mega-foundation millions are being spent to create there’s apparently no difference – or the people who have been bought by those foundation’s millions want everyone to believe there isn’t.

In a memo presenting their survey results and their conclusions the people at Edge Research write “while there is currently no drilling and mining in these areas, there is some commercial fishing activity. Protecting these areas would prohibit the fishing activity in these limited areas and could result in a small adverse economic impact on commercial fishing.” It’s axiomatic but it probably doesn’t hurt to state that what is “a small adverse economic impact” to the people at Edge Research, at Pew, at the Conservation Law Foundation or at any of the other involved organizations who can with clear conscience equate the impacts of fishing with the impacts of mining and drilling is unquestionably the difference between staying in business and bankruptcy to dozens of small New England businesses. But the drillers will keep on drilling and the miners will keep on digging, just like always.

Do you want the fisheries that you depend on to be controlled by politically spawned dictates from the White House or by a science-based system that is based on input from you and other stakeholders? Do you want federal fisheries policy to be a result of manipulations by professional pollsters working for anti-fishing ENGOs and the foundations that support them?

This isn't just a New England problem. This allows any anti-fishing group with enough dollars and enough political clout to ride roughshod over a fisheries management that, while not yet perfect is something that we've all invested a tremendous in imporoving. Below I've attached an email from the National Coalition of Fisshing Communities addressing this issue as well. New York Congressman Lee Zeldin has prepared legislation that, while not a permanent fix, will put the Foundations/ENGOs plans on ice for a year. This will allow us time to work on a permanent solution. I don't know this fared last night but regardless of that call your local House Member's and your Senators' offices and let them know how important this issue is to you and to your future in fishing.

Article courtesy of Nils Stolpe FishNet USA