Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Whole Foods Joins the Battle To Try and Save New England Fishing Industry from Self Destruction

Industry Reacts Angrily, Wants to Continue to Self Destruct

Apparently there is a concept in the New England fishing industry that the industry does not understand, so in the interests of public service this Forum is going to repeat it for them.  That concept is this, if there are no fish to be caught, if the fishing industry has completely wiped out the fishing stock then the fishing industry will be no more.

Now that doesn’t sound like a difficult concept to grasp, but apparently it is beyond the understanding of the fishing industry in New England.  That industry has already fished many species past the point where they can be commercially harvested, and closer to the point of extinction.  It takes vigorous regulation by state and federal agencies to keep the New England fishing industry from completely obliterating itself.  So when Whole Foods announced that they would only buy fish that came from sustainable stocks, the fishing industry reacted as though they were being attacked and their livelihood destroyed.

“We’ve been murdered,” said Russell Sherman, who sold his entire catch to Whole Foods for the last six years and is seeking new buyers. “It’s not fair at all.”

Well, no Mr. Sherman, actually it’s the fish who are being murdered.  You are simply being protected from your own greed and stupidity, since apparently you are not capable of protecting yourself from those traits.  Here is the position of Whole Foods.

Whole Foods says that, in fact, it is doing its part to address the very real problem of overfishing and help badly depleted fish stocks recover. It is using ratings set by theBlue Ocean Institute, a conservation group, and theMonterey Bay Aquarium in California. They are based on factors including how abundant a species is, how quickly it reproduces and whether the catch method damages its habitat.

“Stewardship of the ocean is so important to our customers and to us,” said David Pilat, the global seafood buyer for Whole Foods. “We’re not necessarily here to tell fishermen how to fish, but on a species like Atlantic cod, we are out there actively saying, ‘For Whole Foods Market to buy your cod, the rating has to be favorable.’ ”

An effective illustration of how self regulation can produce both a sustainable seafood base and economic security can be seen in the nearby lobster industry.  That industry tightly controls itself, understanding that it needs to allow the lobster stock to repopulate itself if lobster trapping is going to continue to be a viable industry. 

One hopes that the New England fishing commercial fishing community will ultimately come to see the benefits of sustainable management of the fishing stock.  If not they will soon be known by a new title, the Former Fishing Industry of New England, and they will learn the hard way that zero fish equals zero income.

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