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.
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