Posted by Jon on May 26, 2005 at 12:19:59:
In Reply to: Hypocrisy posted by James on May 25, 2005 at 15:51:00:
Thanks for the well-reasoned, respectful post. The tone you took seems to be the exception when it comes to discussing hot-button issues on the internet.
I agree with much of what you wrote but I'd like to respond to try to reconcile some of the apparent contradictions and hypocrisy that you refer to. However, I can only speak for myself -- the tree-huggers will have to respond separately :-)
I am a meat-eating, car-driving, leather-shoe-wearing guy with a passion for the ocean. I have no problem eating cows, pigs, chickens etc. because they are bred to be eaten. I don't even object to fishing, when it's done in a sustainable manner with minimal bycatch (this is rare, so I rarely eat seafood). I'm also a freshwater fisherman (trout on the fly, C&R) and I occasionally take lobsters from areas in which they are plentiful.
On the other hand, when I go diving I like to SEE fish, preferably big fish. It's great to see black sea bass making a comeback but they are the exception to the rule. Imagine seeing 25lb+ sheephead, 6-foot halibut and 5-foot lingcod on a regular basis. If you go up to the Pacific Northwest, where hunting is less popular, fish of these sizes are quite common and the diving is so much better for it. As it is, at most Southern California dive sites, especially those near shore, I see senoritas, blacksmith and a few garibaldi.
At the same time, I have great respect for the handful of hunters I know. They target only those species that are abundant and take only enough for their own needs. Most freediving spearos (and yourself) seem to embrace this ethic as well.
On the other hand, I see quite a few spearfishers who hunt indiscriminatly. They seem preoccupied with taking as many fish as possible, disregarding the fact that our local reefs are already overfished by commercial and recreational interests. All too often, they seem hell-bent on taking every single legal (or not-so-legal) fish from a dive site.
I understand that spearfishing has a miniscule impact on the overall numbers of fish, but it's supremely ironic to me that divers are making the final contribution to the decline of the diving environment.
Also, the impact of trophy hungting is greater than the numbers suggest. If a big fish somehow manages to elude the commerical nets and recreational hooks, that's the fish that is first to be targeted by a spearfisherman. Killing the big fish not only removes something cool to see underwater, it also eliminates a dominant breeder from the gene pool and reduces the size of the future fish stock.
In short, my desire to see greater restraint in the spearfishing community have nothing to do with psuedo-environmentalism and everything to do with unashamed self-interest.
Lastly, I have a hypothetical question: If the DF&G decided to take black sea bass off the protected species list today, which of you guys would spear one tomorrow?
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