IFQ’s – Final Word

Fishery managers, we suppose, don’t realize the destructive effect of Individual Fishing Quotas on our communities, nor understand the reality of utilizing them in the real world. Stability in your fisheries!Predictability! Catch them when you want! Sell when the price is high! Fish only when seas are calm! Buy more if you need them! Sell them when you’re ready to retire!…..According to our fishing bureaucracy, nothing but good flows from IFQ’s

We would all like to think that the apparent ignorance of our fishery managers springs from a lack of information, or even from naiveté…. That they just haven’t thought it all through, or didn’t get all the input they needed…. That they must realize, while they can control us, even the federal bureaucracy cannot control community character, the fish, the weather, and the markets…. In truth, we are almost desperate to believe that the reason they regulate with such disregard for the realities of making a living from the sea, is because they just don’t understand!

Well, I’m sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but it is not from a lack of understanding on their part, but on ours. Bureaucrats understand that they don’t understand, but it doesn’t matter. Commercial fishery management is no longer about fishery management. It is about power and control. Every species in our Florida Keys waters, is already protected from over-fishing by the commercial industry. With quotas, license limitations, area closures, gear restrictions, income requirements, size limits, seasonal stoppages, tracking devices, and enforcement efforts, it would be nothing short of amazing if any fishery stock became depleted by our industry’s highly reduced effort.

Fishery managers understand this. They are educated and perceptive. They know the presumed threat of over-fishing is highly exaggerated, and effort will only continue to be reduced. They know that IFQ’s will eliminate the ‘little guy’ from fishing. They know that production will end up in the hands of a few large producers, and be controlled by corporate interests. They know that our youth will be excluded, and our traditional community fisheries will become extinct. And they know that they are manipulating both the wording and intent of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

They know! Yet we still try to explain our side, and make them understand. It is frustrating, and even a little sad, to watch industry people who think they are gaining something by being cooperative, and compromising with the bureaucracy. It is not compromise when only one side has something to lose, and cooperating in our demise is nothing short of suicidal. We can no longer change things by working through the system, because the system is broken! Only a fundamental change back to individuals controlling the government, instead of government ruling over the people, can leave us with a fishery that still resembles a traditional American industry, in which a person can get ahead through hard work and perseverance.

No one wants to be viewed as an alarmist, or extremist. No one wants to be dismissed as a radical, who imagines that dedicated government workers – our neighbors and fellow citizens after all – are conspiring to take away our individual freedoms. No one wants to be accused of being intransigent, uncompromising, cynical, suspicious, ruining the mood of cooperation, and never being happy. In 30 years of participation in the regulatory process, all of the charges have been leveled at me in attempts to marginalize my views. For the record, I am not an alarmist, extremist, radical, or unhappy, and with a few notable exceptions, I like bureaucrats the same as any fellow human being. While I may admit to being contentious at times, it is not my nature to be so, and has been brought on by the unwarranted intrusion of government into my life.

From the early stages of ‘effort limitation’, to the present, I have often been viewed as the malcontent who likes to rain on everyone’s parade, simply because I have consistently pointed out the facts that are right in front of everyone’s face. I predicted such things as individual quotas, and vessel monitoring systems, back when fishery managers addressed my supposed paranoia with ha ha’s and hee hee’s, much as the President dismissively answered those who worry about rationed health care by laughing “Nobody is going to kill Granny”.

In truth, I have been as guilty as anyone, of looking only at the short term effects of proposed rules, and was surely never able to imagine everything that was coming. For certain, I never dreamed that the power of government could rise so quickly over such a short time. It is not paranoia speaking, but only reality jumping in, when I say that anything we can think of, is already being discussed and studied by someone in the bureaucracy. If we can have the government limiting our income with IFQ’s, and watching every move we make with satellite cameras and video monitors, then nothing is unthinkable.

With the elimination of small boat fishermen, and the redistribution of effort to equalize income, the government is moving inexorably towards a fishery modeled on the bureaucracy. Fishermen will not be individuals, but cogs in the wheel. Even as the average worker in the bureaucracy has no independent authority to make the most minor decisions, so fishermen will soon need permission to leave the dock, and authorization to fish a certain spot.

For our fisheries, IFQ’s represent the final collapse into government dependency. Our proud and independent Keys fishermen survived on their own for 150 years, before the government came around to help them. Like much of America today, we were slowly weaned from individual responsibility by innocently accepting such non-threatening support as SBA loans, FEMA recovery funds, and limited entry into our fisheries. Now we find – after voluntarily crossing the line – that there is no turning back, and the government is going to force their own version of ‘help’ upon us, with the imposition of IFQ’s.

Unfortunately for us today, the power of government has reached the point at which change can only be effected in two ways: Total economic disaster, – that we positively do not want – and through the ballot box. (forget the courts – if Bill Gates couldn’t beat them?..) Whether Republican or Democrat, big government leaders must be thrown out of office if we are to salvage a viable commercial industry. With regard to the intrusion of government into our lives, George Bush’s administration was little better than Barack Obama’s.

Hopefully a true statesman will emerge from somewhere to lead the country, but one person will not be able to do much with the entrenched bureaucracy. It is going to take both houses of congress filled with dedicated people who believe in the Constitutional principles of limited government, and who are willing to put the future of America above their own political careers. 2010 can be the end, or a new beginning for our industry. We can’t afford to sit back and do nothing.

Be Sociable, Share!

5 Responses to “IFQ’s – Final Word”

  1. Treasa Soong says:

    can i see more of this please

  2. Pat Decaro says:

    I’ve been looking through your site. You have some interesting posts on here, especially this one – I really liked it…nice post. Consider yourself bookmarked

  3. Neil Conry says:

    I just found this site a while back when a buddy of mine recommended it to me. I have been an avid reader ever since.

  4. This blog is great. How did you come up witht he idea? 1 8 2

Leave a Reply

Security Code: