Thursday, April 12, 2007

Massachusetts fishery disaster: too much of a good thing

New England's cod fishermen are victims of their own success. Now the governor of Massachusetts wants a federal disaster declaration so he can get federal aid for the victims.

How did this happen? New England's fishermen are too good at the spin game and they've spun themselves into disaster. They paint a "woe is me" tale of beleagured victims, and ask for permission to overfish for just a few more years. Years turn into decades, and there are no cod left to catch.

Consider those great conservationists of New Englad. Politicians like Barney Frank and Ted Kennedy (among others) get very good lifetime scores from the League of Conservation Voters. But when it comes to conserving fish, they bow to their handful of fishing constituents and call for softening federal rules against overfishing.

Thus we get the overfishing entitlement in New England (and a few other places). This is one sad and tired story. With the total collapse of the Newfoundland cod fishery hanging over the northeast like a sword, how can it be that anyone dares to call for more overfishing?

The only hope for New England's cod fishery is some tough love to break the overfishing entitlement. Cries to save the infrastructure and keep people afloat ring hollow when they're just another in a long litany of cries that justfiy decades of overfishing.

Many fishery problems deserve forbearance and outside support, but not this one.

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