Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Vilification of the Man Who Caught the Mako

or how we crucify recreational fishermen while the real problem gets swept under the rug in the name of progress , industry and .99 cent cans of chunk light tuna (in water!).

This started out as a comment on another blogger's post on Google +. Let me just say , I respect this blogger , he's an upstanding member of the community and one heck of a fisherman. Like many fishing bloggers he's passionate about the sport (fishing , not blogging , though I have heard that other categories of blogs really duke it out) , and I have deep respect for his opinions and views about our shared interests. We may just have to agree to bury the hatchet on this one , though , as I have strong feelings about what I see as the vilification of the recreational angler...

Many of you will have , at this rather late hour for me to be blogging , seen reports out of Southern California referencing a recent trophy catch , and by many accounts a new record Shortfin Mako Shark. We don't see too many record breaking fish these days , for a couple of reasons. One , we are standing on the shoulders of giants , ie : Hemmingway and Zane Gray , and their contemporaries , and about 4 generations of subsequent anglers caught many of the true giants years ago , and set records that are damn near impossible to break because of #2 : the continued depletion of our precious marine resources. I won't dispute the hard facts here. It's hard for me to stomach what will invariably be said about this poor guy. Almost immediately following publication , people started to comment about "Such a shame to kill it" , "Why , sharkie , why" , "He coulda been a contender, coulda been somebody"... it's already making me cringe.

Like I mentioned in my first comment on the aforementioned blogger's post , "I have mixed feelings. I hate that it was killed, but I'd much rather see it killed for a record than see its fins end up looking like deflated breast implants in a bowl of shark fin soup." I stand by that statement , I'll even go on to add , " There's no way I can say what I have to say without sounding like an ass to someone , so I'll just throw it out there : I've eaten several sharks and I'll continue to eat the occasional black tip that comes my way , I would have taken it (the Mako) in for the record , too. Rec fishermen take far too much of the blame for the state of our fisheries , and we do more to preserve them than anyone. I hate to see that guy torn to pieces in the media , without the slightest mention of the millions of sharks killed to sate China's appetite for shark fin soup or even a titter about the thousands killed on longlines alongside the endangered turtles , and literal tons of swordfish. I won't even bring up death as bycatch in any of the other commercial fisheries , but I guarantee that more sharks are killed every day by "accident" on commercial boats than record seekers do yearly. All the evil the commercial boats do is swept quietly under the rug in the name of progress and industry , so the average person can take their fish oil capsules , eat tuna from a can , and pretend that one man catching one Mako is going to deplete the resource."

I won't post that last bit in quotes as a comment on his post. He has the right to his opinion , and I won't infringe on it. I just think we need to take a long hard look at who does the damage to our fisheries. Is it reasonable to assume that the man who caught the Mako has set us back so far when it comes to conservation? No it's not. In no way has he earned the albatross that will surely be hung from his neck by teeming legions of fish huggers , catch and release champions , and even those jealous that the honor of catching such a fish wasn't theirs and theirs alone. It disgusts me to think of all the vitriol , the sheer hatred that will be focused on one man killing one fish for one record , while as I write this there are hundreds , HUNDREDS of commercial boats coming into port with their catches , measured in tons. I'd like to know how many sharks died today as bycatch. My guess is hundreds if not thousands.

But let's hate this man. Let's all curse him , and post snarky comments about how it will hopefully put an end to the quest for records in the Mako Shark category. Why not , huh? Because certainly , if the 'mega corporations get their way , there won't be any sharks left to catch , or even fish for that matter. We can all just get our swimming protein and fish oil in pill form or canned , straight from the processor? That makes perfect sense , right? Let's bash the guy good and proper while he donates the shark (that was arguably near the end of it's natural lifespan anyway) for research. Big business just fins them and/or tosses them over the rail dead , screw science.

It's a shame he'll be vilified for his catch. I know who the real villains are , and they don't take their fish with rod and reel.

The articles defaming the juggernauts of the commercial fishing fleet somehow end up buried in the backs of magazines and newspapers , and hidden on obscure blogs and conservation group websites online. Let someone catch a noteworthy trophy fish that makes the front page , and we all have someone to collectively blame for the ills befalling the fisheries so many of us have watched decline for far too many years. Seems unfair to me.

Let's not lose sight of who really does damage to our fisheries , not even for a second. Don't let the media , and fear mongering commenters, vilify this man for something many of us will never have the honor of doing. Save your bile for those who would turn our oceans into a sterile brine with their trawl nets and purse seines.

2 comments:

  1. You're right. This guy is not the one who will put the shark on the endangered list if they're not already there.

    From the song "In the year 2525".

    Everything you think, do and say Is in the pill you took today.

    And that isn't that far off..

    ReplyDelete

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