Think About It……. February 12, 2014
I’ve been listening to the Board of Fisheries meetings in Anchorage lately. You want to hear something that shocked my socks off last week?
Board Member: “Would there be an advantage to targeting jacks and trying to remove them from the population?”
The Board is seeing an overabundance of jacks – for those who don’t know, jacks are very small kings – and here one member is wondering if the way to even out the run is to pull all the little guys out of the water.
Hang on a second!!! Let’s see, if I spend lots of time fishing for little kings, there won’t be many left, and that means they won’t reproduce as much, and that means there won’t be as many baby little kings going on to breed and so on. Sounds like a great idea! Sounds kind of like genetic selection (which the Department says they’re trying to avoid)!
Wow! So if that works, then any breed or color or size of fish that you target really heavily would probably end up being weeded out of the gene pool. We could encourage people to target pike, or carp, or maybe even trophy kings. Yeah! If people suddenly started targeting that one super abundant species, we could whittle it away in, oh, probably just 30 years.
And I bet, if we advertized, all over the world, how great our pike fishing is, or our carp fishing, we could get millions of tourists to pay for the pleasure of culling these useless fish out of our waterways. We could even boast about how big they are, how tough they are, how rare they are. We could promise every Tom, Dick, and Harry that if he spends $5,000 he’ll get to take home his very own Alaskan pike and mount it on his wall, a symbol of his masculinity and success.
Just imagine, then we wouldn’t have to deal with all those crazy fish swimming in our pristine waters. Wouldn’t that be great?
But, for some strange reason, sportsfishermen have been telling me that doesn’t work on big kings. They say it really hasn’t hurt the kings to sit over their nests for months at a time, hauling them into aluminum tubs, then shipping them back to Texas. Apparently, the fact that we have so many little kings and so few big kings is just a coincidence. Or a problem in the ocean. Or it’s because of the set nets.
Or perhaps we just can’t stand the truth. God will not be mocked. A man will reap what he sows.
So what are we sowing into this river?
A business, which you take with you when you leave, is not an investment. If that’s all you’re putting into the River, why are you surprised that she’s not giving back any more?
I’m not talking strictly about habitat restoration here, though that would come into it. I’m talking about stewardship.
I’m talking about a man who will look honestly and not try to pretend that there’s intense, unsustainable pressure on our River.
A fool would say that there’s no harm in thousands of people targeting one species every year, with carefully planned maps to hit them at their most vulnerable.
A liar would slander those who dare to ask these questions.