Tuesday October 18, 2005

Grouper? We Hardly Touched Her!

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

The Sunday Hurled (10.16.05) kicked off a two-part story about the ongoing destruction of the world’s fisheries. To sum up: thanks to many factors, many of which attributable to human abuse, we’re running out of fish to eat. There’s a pun here about the “scales” of justice, but I’ll resist it. And you’ll thank me.

Seems that we’re running out of edible fish. Tuna, flounder, snapper, Chilean sea bass, orange roughy, grouper, you name it—we’re in short supply. Fish today are shrimps (sorry) compared to a their ancestors of only 50 years ago; smaller, less healthy, less plentiful. We’re overfishing the oceans, and at last—this has been going on for some time—we see the end of the underwater world. We’re running out.

Run on over to the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum in Dania Beach and look at the size of the creatures hauled out of the sea in Hemingway’s time. It was commonplace to stick a hook in a thousand pound tuna. Zane Grey reports swarms of the bastards off the coast of California; now you’d scan the seas for the rest of your life in vain. The big guys are gone, and the little ones are getting eaten before they have a chance to spawn, let alone grow up.

Not until Part II of the story (in Monday’s Hurled) does it mention this little incidental fact: as of Monday 10/12, it is illegal to catch and keep grouper in the waters considered the Florida fishery. As summed up in an excellent, factual report in the New York Times:

The federal government outlawed commercial grouper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico for the rest of the year after fishermen reached a quota for red grouper – a splotchy, scarlet-mouthed variety that scientists consider overfished.

If you’re living in Florida, and if you eat any fish at all, you’re eating grouper. It’s in everything: salads, fish sandwiches, bouillabaisse, fish sticks, and for all I know, hamburgers, cat food, and that slut you picked up at the titty bar. It’s as ubiquitous as fungus, but tastier. That the Feds shut down its harvest should be as shocking as if the same Authority padlocked Krispy Kremes.

If there was any place in the world where this should be taken seriously, it’s right here, south Florida, the sportsfishing capital of the world, and a major commercial fishery . But it isn’t. Sportsfishing isn’t football, so Floridians don’t give a damn. And as if to demonstrate just how insignificant the depletion of the world’s fish is, the story in the Hurled is written by Georgia Tasker, whose regular, Sunday raised pinky column appears in the Home and Garden section, where she provides helpful hints on color-coordinating your household garden plantings with your venereal warts.

So long as the Miami Hurled wastes valuable column-inches on Fred ‘Goober’ Grimm, Georgia Tasker will never finish last in any journalism competition, but that’s like calling the Atlanta Braves “winners.” Tasker has about as much business writing about fish and fishing as Boy George does about birthing techniques. Her sugary, la-di-dah commentaries on cute little houseplants and adorable cozy gardens have been known to induce diabetic comas in grown men. This two-part series, a rehash of 20-year old scientific findings and a sprinkling of dialog illustrating the longstanding, horn-locked battle between recreational anglers and commercial fishermen, simply stunk. Like a fish kill.

The wholesale, systematic slaughter of fish, leading to extinction of entire species and god only knows what rippling effects on the food chain and life on earth, needs to be recognized for the crisis it is, and south Florida, with its 12-month fishing season, should be leading the charge. But we’re not. The afore-mentioned IGFA is run by stuffed shirts and do-nothing, high-end business types who just wanna have fun tracking world records. The fishing industry will suck every finned and scaled creature out of the sea before they admit there’s a problem. And the ever-vigilant watchdog media, epitomized by the Hurled, puts ace potting-soil maven Georgia Tasker on the case.

Want seafood? Pass the python.

[See all Articles by Steve]

comments powered by Disqus
  1. tommy    Tue Oct 18, 03:04 PM #  

    I worked for the IGFA for 2 years. I think you hit the nail on the head with your outline of the place. Basically its a huge tax right off for big shots like Donald Tyson (tyson Chicken), Hiezinga and a list of others. Its a 8 million dollar club house with fishing video games and retired condo commandoes telling you how to reel the big one in. We fucked up Florida so bad man. The everglades is fuckin dry, theres no red fish in biscayne bay, and people live in Weston. It sucks that there is nothing we can do about it. I guess we can recycle ,or buy a Prius, maybe practice catch and release,I don’t know, I think the future is bleak for our florida fishery.

  2. Merkin    Tue Oct 18, 08:54 PM #  

    Closer to $25 Million, Tommy. And it was beautiful when it opened. State of the art. Peta staged a protest on Opening Day—spray-painted the base of the gorgeous swordfish statue “Fishing Is Murder” or something equally clever.

    But what it is, is a stagnant shrine. Dead in the water, pardon the expression. Instead of the environmental crusader, the hub of eco-education and good clean sportsmanship, IGFA is a puny, timid gelding, nutless as a blind squirrel in winter. Hand wringers, finger-pointers, and apologists. Meanwhile the commercial fishing industry drains the oceans of everything that swims.

    Very sad. Outrageous. And, I regret to say, so typical of brain-dead, clue free Florida institutions. If IGFA was in southern California—they wanted it out there, but didn’t have the pull—where fishing and the health of the world’s oceans are a serious business, this shit wouldn’t happen. Trust me.

  3. Potato    Wed Oct 19, 10:11 AM #  

    Fish don’t have any feelings, so spare me. I really don’t understand these overfishing concerns. It sounds like trying to remove all the pieces of lint from a carpet that covers 2/3 of the earth. That is, IF the lint could reproduce.

  4. Kathleen    Wed Oct 19, 03:31 PM #  

    Potato, I suggest that you review the concept of the food chain.

  5. Miami Harold    Wed Oct 19, 03:58 PM #  

    Nobody—not even a potato—
    is deluded enough to believe that fish have no feelings.
    But that’s not the point.
    The “overfishing” issue is pretty easy to grasp
    (even for a spud):
    like any other living thing on god’s green earth,
    fish species can be rendered extinct when they are killed
    to the point where they don’t reproduce.
    That’s what’s happening to numerous species today,
    and it’s been going on for several decades.
    Fish today are not only smaller,
    their sheer numbers are sharply reduced
    compared to even 20 years ago.
    We’re turning the oceans into deserts.
    That’s 2/3 of the earth,
    dead as Donald Trump’s hairpiece.
    Got that Potato?
    You linthead?

    PS Potatoes have no feelings.

  6. Potato    Wed Oct 19, 06:52 PM #  

    Their sheer numbers are sharply reduced?

    I’m supposed to feel sorry for them? I would think that having your numbers sharply reduced would make you less lucrative to fishermen, who find other things to occupy their time, letting you reproduce your way back to fishable numbers. Doesn’t each female give birth to tens of thousands of kids when it breeds?

    As for the food chain, yes, the numbers of predators of fish will rise and fall with the numbers of fish. I’m not too sure what should panic me about that, either.

    Fish are about ten thousand times better at breeding then rats. They’re like the vertebrate weeds of the ocean. Even if we wanted to fish them into extinction it would be all but impossible.

    Charge me less for farm-raised then ocean-caught if you will, but spare me the moraliziing.

  7. Kathleen    Wed Oct 19, 09:46 PM #  


    Monetary value would go up, not down, because of scarcity; poachers would reign (as if they don’t already—that “chilean sea bass” you just ate folks? Poached!), raking in big bucks while continuing to destroy species.

    But who cares about monetary value when millions of people (who are at the top of the food chain, some of those predators of fish you mention) depend on fish for the majority of their animal protein? Most of the people who do so live in the so called third world nations; they will not have an easy time replacing fish with another source of protein.

    Add global warming and environmental concerns into the mix, and those tens of thousands of kids cannot be relied upon to develop; temperatures and pollution have the ability to strongly adversely affect the ability of eggs to hatch.

    Some species which are especially vulnerable do not in fact reproduce by the thousands—octopii, for example: they only have one offspring at a time. Imagine how many you eat with every order of calimari.

    Additionally, regulations preventing legit operations from fishing the same species you can bet the poachers would be fishing would put a bunch of people out of work, and though I would love it if Tyson Foods went to hell, I don’t want the poor dope employees to suffer job loss.

    Yes, fish have feelings, and memory, as does the species of internet potato, which is why I have refrained from casting aspersions upon your intellect and degree of self-involvement.

  8. Pescatore    Wed Oct 19, 10:33 PM #  

    Poor Potato Head! He thinks this is about HIM!! Not that it would really help, here’s one of about a gazillion aticles devoted to the extinction of fish species. Whether or not Li’l Tater wants to believe it’s possible; whether or not he should panic (like it makes a difference), it’s reality. Here.
    Learn. Or at least try…....

    ..... “Moralizing?” Are meteorologists who warn of impending hurricanes “moralizing?” Potato, you must be smashed.

  9. Potato    Thu Oct 20, 01:28 AM #  

    ok, i really hate to be blunt, but you people are stupid. a few bulbs short of a marquee, or whatever. i was about to ask for some evidence, when “Pescatore” provides it. Except—oops!—the article you’re linking to is warning about danger from development, NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT overfishing. Oh and yeah, check out the article’s title: “Wave of Marine Species Extinctions Feared.”

    “FEARED”, motherfuckers. as in NOT FACTUAL. You know how Steve was talking about how the herald article regurgitates 20 year old facts? Well these are ALL ALL ALL 20 year old fears, too. I’ve been hearing this shit forever, and it has not come to pass. When I was in High School, my biology teacher talked about how South Florida was about to run out of water (remember the water shortages?). Wrong! Remember the horror stories about smog?? Well, we passed VERY modest emission standards and the enviroment sprang back much faster then gloom ‘n doom enviromentalists could ever have imagined.

    The truth is, there are serious enviromental problems facing us. But by whining about something as self-correcting as fish populations, you are making ALL enviromental alarmists look like idiots. PLEASE drop this lunacy.

    “We’re turning the oceans into deserts. ”??? Please put on a scuba tank and go have a look, because you’re sounding like an idiot.

    Oh, and fish poachers? You have GOT to be kidding? Sorry, but when I go to red lobster and the fish dish that used to cost $12 is sudddenly going for $22, i’ll hapily order the chicken fingers. Duh. So I’d suggest the rap game over “fish poaching” (i defy you to say that while keeping a straight face) if you’re looking for a get-rich-quick scheme.

    And if octopi were so scarce, I wouldn’t get a free octopus/pasta salad every time my ass hits a chair at Maiko.

  10. Ostrich    Thu Oct 20, 10:35 AM #  

    Right on, Potato. Nice to see somebody talking sense. The environment is self-correcting, and everything works out. There’s no serious air pollution in Mexico City or Los Angeles, the 50% thinning of the polar ice caps opens navigational opportunities, the New England cod fisheries will probably re-open any year now, the reason bluefin tunas only go 600-700 pounds instead of 1,000+ is cuz they’re concerned for their own cholesterol. I could go on and on, but I know I’m just preaching to the choir. So long as private industry keeps the reins on government regulators, and those loony-toon enviro- hippies are kept in check, the earth is in good hands.

  11. I Don't Know    Thu Oct 20, 10:39 AM #  

    The problem with eating octopi is that they are as smart as children.


    But, yeah, I agree with you Potato, fish are in much better shape than us. They’ll be fine.

    My grandfather (Okeechobee resident) is a big fisherman, and eats his own catch several times a week. He catches a lot of fish has hasn’t complained about the supply, ever. (mind you, he fishes a lake, maybe it’s different)

    He also will kill a cottonmouth, on sight, with shovel and gun. You animal lovers would probably have a problem with that too.

  12. Potato    Thu Oct 20, 12:22 PM #  

    There is plenty of serious air polution over mexico city. in LA, where they passed emission laws, the air is fine, thanks.

    i’m sorry your tuna’s only 700 pounds PERFUCKINGFISH, harold. what do your propose? legislation to limit tuna fishing? fine, propose it then.

    there’s game theory involved here – each individual fisherman may want to fish as much as he can, but as a group they’ll realize that limiting fishing for all of them helps them long-term.

    i still say that enviromentalists are going overboard. they’re like the boy who cried wolf, their legitimate claims bunched in with this idiocy.

    some species of octopi are as smart as children on certain tasks. i’m not impressed. pigs are smart, too. sorry, little buddy, but papa’s gotta have his backon chedar mahi-mahi burger.

  13. Kathleen    Thu Oct 20, 02:33 PM #  

    It’s not the individual fishermen who are the problem Potato.

    Large game fish have to reach a certain wieght/size before they reproduce.

    I wish a pig would eat you.

  14. Potato    Thu Oct 20, 03:08 PM #  

    Huh? Are you saying that at 700 pounds tuna don’t weigh enough to mate?

    That’s sort of gross, isn’t it? I mean, they’re delicious and whatnot (esp. rare!), but i’m not so sure about the fickle fish.

    It’s not the individual fishermen who are the problem. It’s all of the fishermen combined. that’s what i was talking about with the game theory.

  15. Hugh Bris    Fri Oct 21, 04:25 PM #  

    If Potato and I Dont Know are Floridians, this demonstrates IN SPADES what the original post pointed out: Floridians are pretty poorly informed about something in which they ought to be leading the way. Those two are pathetic, like listening to a Creationist. (I especially liked “the air in LA is fine!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!) Does Spud-Puller actually not know that tuna fishing has been regulated for years, and that the Japanese routinely violate the protocols? Is “I Dunno” actually unaware of the deterioration of Okechobee, and that the entire state and Federal governments are involved up their admittedly incompetent asses in its restoration? This is astonishing, even for Florida

  16. Flat Earth Society    Fri Oct 21, 04:36 PM #  

    The world’s water and the fish that swim them are in fine shape. There’s no air pollution, no overpopulation, and you can safely drink any water you encounter anywhere. I didn’t know the gun was loaded, and the check is in the mail.

  17. Pescatore    Fri Oct 21, 04:54 PM #  

    You’d have to be living in a cave in central bumblefuck for 25 years not to know this. Start here. These guys are just havin’ us on.

  18. mek    Sat Nov 5, 08:20 AM #  

    relevent info from a press release forwarded to me:

    thesis defense seminar by (name omitted), M.S.
    Candidate in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy at the Hubert Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

    Title: International Governance of Transgenic Fish: Navigating Biosafety and Trade Policy Waters

    Rapid advances in genetic engineering have lead to the development of transgenic fish around the world with a variety of novel traits and have raised the need for improved regulatory guidelines. Although there has been some discussion on the governance of transgenic fish at the U.S. federal
    level, this thesis is the first to consider how transgenic fish could be governed internationally. The two most relevant international agreements for
    governing transgenic fish are the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity (Cartagena Protocol) and the World Trade Organization Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary
    Measures (SPS Agreement). I analyzed the text of these agreements and interviewed 16 international biosafety and trade policy experts to determine the relationship between these agreements and to assess their potential to effectively regulate transgenic fish. My results indicate that the
    relationship is supportive, although opportunities for improvement exist. One option for improving this relationship is recognition of the Cartagena
    Protocol as a standard-setting body under the SPS Agreement.

  19. jellyfish    Wed Nov 23, 03:21 PM #  

    I simply can’t believe the comments from the unsophisticated louts saying overfishing is NOT a problem. Do any of you actually fish, either commercially or recreationally? Do you know firsthand about the drop in fish stocks, the scarcity of certain species, and the scary reduction in size and weight of individual species? Off the Jersey coast, where the fishing was fabulous for over a century, you can’t find anything bigger or more edible than an old shoe unless you head 15 miles out. How do you not know this in Florida?