What's wrong with this picture? It shows how $millions have been wasted on fancy, bloated fishing boats in an absurd "race for fish."
Why? Misguided rules and subsidies lead fishermen to foolishly invest more and more money to catch the same or fewer fish. Now the fleet is going bankrupt, beaten by foreign competition.
The boat at left is a "modern" Bristol Bay salmon boat. It's a massive and unsafe 32-footer, tall & wide with a cut-off bow, because of rules that limit boat length. It's built big to catch lots of fish fast. In contrast, the boat at right is a "normal" 32-footer. There are nearly 2000 salmon boats permitted to fish Bristol Bay, many of them expensive, fast, bloated behemoths like the boat at left. Yet once the same catch was made using only 1200 sailboats!!
One casualty in this race for fish is conservation. In a race for fish, who has time to think about conservation? Gotta beat the next guy to the fish, to pay of last year's boat improvements and make the boat even faster for next year.
Some are trying to reform the Bristol Bay fishery, and ending the race for fish would help fishermen and advance conservation.
Photo: Norm Van Vactor