Battle over fishing ban heads for round 2
Commentary by John Griffith, Doos County
Coos Bay, Oregon 5/27/03
They tried to force this hogwash on us in
Oregon. I am working with Rep. Wayne Krieger,
R-Gold Beach, to restore some sanity and public
participation to the situation.
Some background: I was on the Oregon Ocean
Policy Advisory Council from 1998 until former
Gov. Kitzhaber kicked me off in June 2002.
I kind of asked to be kicked off, by sending an
intentionally provocative email to a staffer at
OPAC. I had to do something, because we were
getting railroaded. It backfired on Kitzhaber,
however, because the Eugene and Portland papers
did objective, balanced stories about it, which
showed rational people what the problem was. I
nevertheless became a forever nonstarter for any
elective office beyond the one I have now, which
is fine with me. I had no desire to run for
another office. I have enough work to do just to
try to keep the state and federal governments
from shutting down my county and the people who
Back to the Ocean Policy Advisory Council (OPAC).
Every fisherman and coastal government official
who spoke at meetings on the coast in the spring
of 2002 was against the marine reserve idea that
the OPAC put forth after I was fired. OPAC would
have done it with me; it would just have been
another vote in opposition.
The OPAC is stacked, and has been since it was
created in 1991 by the Oregon legislature. It
will always produce the outcome desired by the
shut-em-down lobby, regardless of what actual
ocean users on OPAC and the public say. People
who know much are shut out. That is the design
of the thing.
Krieger put together a good bill that will fix
things if it passes. It's named HB 3534.
As for the items in this article "Battle over
fishing ban heads for round 2":
Although bigger fish create more eggs than smaller
fish do, the marine reserve crowd fails to note that fish move. They move
into and out of areas as they want. Sometimes
they're there, others they're somewhere else.
Every fisherman knows this. The data are
abundant, besides common sense.
There are no marine reserves in a directly
comparable environment to Oregon's marine
reality. The only close ones are in Puget Sound.
There, studies show no difference within or
without the reserve except for at Edmunds Dive
Researchers there noticed one rockfish species
was more abundant, and they were pretty big. On
the other hand, species diversity was notably
lower. That is the only empirical observation.
Besides, Puget Sound is not that closely related
to Oregon's offshore waters.
The lingcod stock assessment is entirely bogus.
There is no shortage of them.
Boccacio is another matter, but they don't live
Due to federal government regulations, most of
our trawlers are just about out of business.
This year, the government shut down almost
everywhere they fish, and changed their gear to
make them much less efficient and their fishing
much more dangerous.
The closures are largely in response to green
threats of lawsuits if they don't get their way.
The federal scientists gather the data, run them
through their model, add the precautionary
principle every step of the way instead of just
at the end the way they're supposed to, and the
result is grim (naturally, after a process like
Then there's the change in definitions brought
on by the 1996 reauthorization of Magnusen
Stevens Act. Called the Sustainable Fisheries
Act of 1996, it changed the definition of a
fishery fished at optimal yield to "overfished."
So now the greens can crow that such-and-such
percent of fish stocks are "overfished," and not
actually lie, because Congress changed the
definitions. When we went from optimal yield to
overfished, not one fish more or less was taken
from the ocean by Clinton setting his pen to the
abominable bill. It just changed the words, not
the number of fish. This is not to say there are
no species of concern, just not as much concern
as the greens have injected into it.
So in Oregon we already have most of the water
as a fishing reserve. Salmon trollers may still
fish out there, and so can crabbers, but
trawlers cannot. The big boats are trawlers. The
salmon fishermen in northern California and
PCFFA are the ones suing Klamath Water Users,
not our guys. As the greens continue to push for
reserves, they'll continue to push more
fisheries off the ocean, including the ones
they're more cozy with today.
The idea of "spill over" is speculative and
unproven. Reports are couched with phrases like
"seems to indicate," "could indicate," and
Most of the observations are contained in
reports and case studies done by advocates of
marine reserves. They are not peer-reviewed
science, none that I saw in four years of OPAC
and previous to that as a newspaper reporter.
Some very respected scientists have refuted much
of the hogwash. The marine reserve advocates
always leave any refuting science out of their
The greens have bought into this scam big time.
They have sucked most of the easy money out of
the timber controversy they created, and need
new fields to make more money in. And just like
timber, we will import more fish to meet
American market demand, from countries that
don't give a rip about the environment or, for
that matter, human health. Our people will be
out of work, and theirs will be feeding us. The
product will be less fresh, there's no recourse
to shady dealings and the ocean will be mined by
Of course, the greens just say, "train them to
do new jobs." They forget that Oregon has the
highest unemployment in America. So even if they
trained these guys, there's no work for them.
Besides, just like farmers and ranchers,
fishermen are in the work they want now. They
feed America, do dangerous work and don't whine
about it. But greens know what's best for them,
because they've never done the work they're
trying to force working people out of.