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Show Me The Money

Show Me The Money
Show Me The Money

Show Me Your Money. Ah, the love of money. It's a love that drives civilization, for better and worse.

And in our particular realm of interest, the love of money regularly wipes out fish populations.

In the pursuit of profit, we let a few take a wild animal that belongs to everyone and sell it for personal cash.

It's a public-to-private conversion that constantly gets us in trouble.

The problem is that there no longer are enough wild animals to even begin to satisfy the market's appetite.

Take them off the market, however, and they nearly always thrive just fine.

And yet it is difficult to stop rampant commercial overfishing because of ingrained “tradition” and claims of great economic value. Money.

Actually, it's time to take the much-ballyhooed money factor and put it to good use for our team, non-commercial fishing.

You've shown your money, let us show you ours.

The recreational fishing community has stated for many years that anglers' expenditures contribute far, far more to the economy than does market fishing, especially regarding nearshore stocks. But really first-rate studies showing that disparity have been tough to come by, and commercial forces in managements have much preferred to avoid such findings.

Now, fortunately, there are more demands for responsible evaluations of sportfishing's economic benefits.

A welcome new study is under way for Stripers Forever by Rob Southwick, an economist from Florida who is pulling together myriad factors to identify the advantages of fishing for striped bass on a no-sale basis.

The methodology may well have considerable benefits for Florida fisheries because the same basic factors—spending (and income) for tackle, boats, resorts, travel and much more—apply to our circumstances. Exactly.

One of the nation's premier sportfish, striped bass still has a dollar sign on its dorsal in some key eastern states. Stripers Forever (StripersForever.org) is solely dedicated to removing that wild animal profit source and we'll do well to support the effort all the way. (Stripers, as you may know, already are off the market in the North Florida runs they enjoy.)

They also benefit from no-sale status in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Pennsylvannia, New Jersey and South Carolina.

But hotbeds of commercial takings linger on in crucial areas of Maryland, New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Netters in Maryland, the source of much of the stock for the eastern Atlantic, haul five and a half million pounds a year off to market.

Stripers Forever President Brad Burns emphasizes that his non-profit group needs additional funding for the Southwick economic study and continuing campaign. Certainly the sporting industry should kick in big, and so should all of us, sending what we can to SF at Box 2781, Portland, ME 04116.

You can be sure that the results of this economic analysis will have significant spin-off effects for Florida and for all areas still besieged by the lose-lose consequences of market overfishing.

In short, any commercial usage of wild fish should be limited to populations that can be managed sustainably and do not have higher socioeconomic worth as recreational species.

FS




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