Monday, April 23, 2007

How to save our ocean fish

The secret lies in that most American of values…shared investment in a better future. We need to pull together in this difficult time, but it’s tough when too many people are looking backwards and crying.

Remember the glorious rush of pulling together in a crisis? Whatever has been yours, I’m sure you’ve been there. Remember a hurricane that flooded streets and cut power? Maybe an earthquake, or a volcanic eruption that produced a snowfall of ash? How about that snowstorm that brought everything to a standstill and drew the whole neighborhood out into the silent streets to marvel at the magic of it all? Nothing pulls people together like rising together to meet a challenge.

Is that our response to our declining oceans? Not yet. We’re not getting busy with solutions, instead we’ve spent our precious time and energy locked into a struggle over what’s really happening and why, and hey don’t dare take away what’s mine.

We’ve got too many people looking backwards and crying about loss. It’s important to know what’s missing, yes, but that doesn’t guide us into the future. If you want to catalogue and remember, that’s good. But if you want to freeze a version of what used to be, that’s not helpful.

It's true that coral reefs are under siege, there are way too many problems. And things are likely to get worse. So what do we do? Moan about what’s going, going, gone? Rail uselessly against our messed-up system and the sad fact that our ocean doesn’t matter to most people? Or do we look for a glimmer of a better future?

What do we see looking back? Once upon a time, we had a glorious past. Fishermen were noble and strong, and they went down to the sea in boats to catch fish that were famously abundant. And everyone cheered. Why can’t we have that again? And once upon a time, fish swarmed around magnificent multi-colored coral reefs, and all you had to do was put your head underwater to see a fantastic ocean that looked like the pages of a book. Where can I go to see that now?

We can look backwards and yearn for the good old days, but that’s a posture of fear and resignation. Or, we can look forward into an uncertain future, and ask how best to have a say in what’s coming. The future belongs to those that embrace it. That is the most American of values.

Picture a sailing vessel at sea, battered by an unexpected squall. Shall we shrink from what lies ahead? Or sail on?

As blogfish moves into year 2, the future has never looked brighter. Why? Because that’s what the future is for.

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