Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Who's afraid of the big bad enviros?

I tell my daughter not to be afraid of monsters, so it’s ironic to read in National Fisherman that I am one.

According to featured columnist Nils Stolpe and Editor Jerry Fraser, environmental NGOs are the real enemy of fishermen. Mr. Stolpe finds us guilty of fronting for Big Oil in a battle against fishing, and Mr. Fraser blames us for the New England groundfish crisis (among other evils).

Their remedy for the big, bad, ENGOs is to eliminate us, by fiat or famine. Change the law to put fishermen back in charge, or cut off our funding so that we starve and go away.

I expect better from the leading national magazine devoted to “informed fishermen, profitable fisheries, and sustainable fish.” Fear and isolationist dreams are a poor solution to complex multi-jurisdictional problems.

It seems better to keep talking, even if we’re big and bad and scary. If Reagan could talk to Gorbachev and Nixon could go to China, maybe National Fisherman could host “an enviro talks to fishermen.” I’ll volunteer to write that column.

My suggestion for a few things fishermen might like to hear. What is my vision of the future? Does it include fishing? (Yes.) How can we fix the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery? What’s wrong with cod? Who knows, we might find some areas of agreement?!

In fact, I have found areas of agreement with fishermen around the U.S. It’s not all that difficult. Let’s start with our shared goals of abundant fish and sustainable fisheries, and work from there towards the details. Some fishermen have found that we aren’t so scary after all.

The Magunson-Stevens reauthorization bill passed by the Senate this year is an example of working together. Nobody is pleased with everything in the bill, but the bipartisan effort produced a compromise that almost everyone can live with. All thanks to an inclusive process led by Senator Ted Stevens.

With yesterday’s election results, the country seems to be asking for less partisanship and cooperation in problem solving. We may have to debate fisheries issues with a new, divided government. Talking to each other might be a good start. So what do you say Jerry? We’ve talked before about an “Enviro” column in National Fisherman, are you ready to give it a try?

Or, you can follow the advice of Nils Stolpe who told a fisherman friend at a public meeting to “watch out” because “you can’t afford to be seen in public talking to Mark Powell.”

My daughter’s nighttime fears are usually simple, an unfamiliar sound or a scary shadow. Turn on the light and the bogeyman is gone.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Powell -

How about sharing with your readers - and me - exactly who the friend was that I supposedly said this to, and where and when the meeting. Because, while I'm not saying it didn't happen, I have no such recollection of any such exchange , nor of attending any meeting where you were in evidence(nor, in actuality, of harboring any such thoughts, let alone being willing to share them with anyone).

Ref what I write in National Fisherman - or anywhere else - I'm sure that Jerry would be more than willing to consider publishing any letters that any interested readers submitted, if that were appropriate. And I'm sure that the readers would judge your words as they judge mine.

I don't think that I've ever suggested that you or your org or any other is "fronting for Big Oil." I've pointed out relationships that exist, and I leave it to whoever reads of them, if interested, to draw whatever conclusions they might - like Boris Worm's group at Dalhousie being funded by Lensfest which is administered by Pew. Big Oil front? Let the readers decide.

Finally, as far as eliminating ENGOs, nice try but I've never suggested any such thing (though, again, if you can come up with the quotes that prove my recollection on this wrong, please share them with me and with your subscribers here).

Nils Stolpe

ps - Perhaps Jerry Fraser's unwillingness is based on the quality of your writing. If "who's afraid of the big, bad enviros?" is a representative sample, I'd suggest that he might be right on target.

Mark Powell said...

Nils, Thanks for checking in. I've asked my source for your quote whether he wants to be revealed. I think it was at one of the "Managing our Nation's Fisheries" conferences in DC.

BTW, my blog can beat up your blog ;)

Anonymous said...

Mark - on Fishfolk you just said "Nils... You're fond of scrupulous vituperation, while I prefer heat-seeking metaphor."

To use a geopolitical analogy, does that mean that Nils is the European Union to your North Korea?

Tim Adams

Mark Powell said...

Nice, somebody with an actual sense of humor. Good one, Tim! I would aspire to a bit loftier status than North Korea, but I can hardly complain if I get hoist by my own metaphor.


Anonymous said...

Mark - A friend of mine just let me know that she remembered having a conversation with me at the DC conference in which I said something akin to what you had written. I didn't - still don't - remember the conversation, let alone the specifics, but I owe you an apology on that point.


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