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New England Fisherman Pissed At Celebrities For Helping Eco-Groups.

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fishing.jpgIn a day and age where sushi restaurants are expected to be an endangered species by 2048, several New England fisherman have expressed distaste at celebrities working against their efforts to ‘bend’ some fishing restrictions on the commercial seafood industry.

In an attempt to add exceptions to the Magnuson-Stevens Act’s requirement that over-fished stocks be rebuilt within 10 years, the three congressmen behind the bill (Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass, Richard Pombo, R-Calif, and Don Young, R-Alaska) were met with stiff resistance from groups such as Oceana and the National Resource Defense Council. From the article,

Both environmental organizations argued on their Web sites that the Pombo-Frank bill would have weakened efforts to rebuild over-fished stocks. And in 2004, both organizations filed complaints against the federal government, citing concerns about bycatch as well as inadequate protection of certain types of fish. The Natural Resources Defense Council asserted that current regulations didn’t do enough to protect against the over-fishing of some North Atlantic species, while Oceana raised concerns about habitat protection.”

The Pombo-Frank bill was intended to provide additional flexibility in setting fishing limits if the law imposed “excessive hardships on fishing communities”. Many fishermen, and the cities they lived in, supported the bill and attempted to prove such hardships existed.

Celebrities such as Robert Redford, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ted Danson, Pierce Brosnan, Kelsey Grammer, and singer James Taylor all donated money to the organizations and promoted their efforts to protect the oceans. In an effort to present an objective view of the debate, most fishermen wish they had such notable people on their side as well. Mr. Kendall said, it would be nice if a celebrity took on the cause of local fishermen. “It’s unfortunate that we can’t get someone from that notable group — the celebrity group,” he said, to say that fishermen are “not rapists of the ocean. They’re farmers of the sea.'”

An interesting debate and one where you cannot argue in favor of one or the other unless you’ve talked personally to both sides. On one hand, our oceans are very much in trouble and over-fishing is only growing worse. On the other hand, the livelihood of many families up and down the East coast is in jeopardy of collapsing. Is there room for compromise? I’m curious to hear your comments on this one.

For some perspective, visit a commentary over on Grist from a member of Oceana and then check out the full article South Coast Today.

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