Raving Conservative


Sunday, September 18, 2005

Fishing Alaska Vrs. Fishing California

I went on my first California charter fishing boat today, which is not to say that I went on went on my charter fishing boat ever, I do it all the time back home in Alaska. Being an environmentalist, a real one with a real education in environmental science, NOT some loony know-nothing activist, I took it as an opportunity to study the difference between the two places and see if I could determine is California's oversized population was having more of an impact on the fish populations than Alaska's tiny one. Only one problem with that plan, the boat I was on went down to Mexico. Still, since it was barely in Mexico I consider my obersavions to still be pertinent.

The first thing I noticed was that the fish were significantly smaller in California/Mexico. The rockfish that we were catching were the same and some similar species to the ones I catch in Alaska, but they were generally about one third of the size of the rockfish in Alaska. My first impulse was to use this as evidence that the southern rockfish were being overfished and were smaller due to depletion, but more careful analysis suggest this may not be true. Southern California and Mexico have significantly warmer water than Alaska does. People spend all dy playing in the water in the southern beaches, but people die of hypothermia after about four minutes in the water in Alaska. This is significant because there is a rule about the oceans that many people do not know. Warmer water has more biodiversity, but colder water has far more biomass. It is very possible that the only reason these southern rockfish are so much smaller than the Alaskan ones is because they don't get nearly as much food. Arctic seas are positively brimming with fish, sea birds, and oceanic mammals. Temperate and tropical seas have more variety and more colorful fish, but there are naturally far less of them. It must also be noted that for a small population, Alaskans harvest an incredible amount of fish every year both commercially and recreationally, as well as for subsistence. The average Alaskan harvests far more fish per year than the average Californian.

The second thing I noticed was the amount of fish caught per person on the boat. Halibut excluded it was just about the same. Five to ten fish per person. (I caught twelve myself, but released four that were too small by my standards.) Halibut included there are many more fish actually caught in a day in Alaska, but most of them are small Halibut. Since only two Halibut may be kept the total fish count remains the same at the end of the day.

Third, on the topic of Halibut, there do not seem to be too many Halibut in southern California. There have alays been far fewer Halibut in warmer waters than in colder ones, so this means nothing. What I did get a chuckle out of was the one halibut that was caught, It was only four inches long. I get annoyed if I catch a halibut under twenty pounds back home in Alaska, and the only Halibut caught on the boat today could be weighed in onces. Absolutely hilarious.

The final thing I took into account was El Ninos. I used to live in California several years ago, and went through a big El Nino. For those of you who don't know, El Nino is what we call it when the cold arctic waters get diverted away from the western coast of the Americas to Asia, and the warmer tropical waters flow away from Asia and to the west coast of the Americas. During these years almost all of the fish populations crash, proving the fact that warm ocean water cannot sustain large fish populations to begin with. Adjusting for regional differences caused by nature itself I must say that there still seem to be plenty of fish in the sea even in the most populated state in the Union. The fisheries managers know what they're doing when they set the legal limits on commercial and recreational fishing. Thier goal is to keep the maximun possible healthy populations of fish while allowing the maximum possible possible harvest, and they are able to achieve this.

I guess the point of this is to look into the claims the environmental activists make about how we are slaughtering everytnig on the planet and need to cease and desist it all entirely. While I think the evidence shows that many fish species are depleted on a global scale, I also think it is due more to the over-harvesting of these animals by a few specific countries. The bigest offender is Japan, whose appatite for seafood seems completely insatiable. They have depleted their own waters to the point that they not only overfish international waters with anton disregard for the destrction they are causing, but are notorious for poaching the national waters of other countries as well. I will go into this in greater detail in another article.

In summary, I think we're doing a pretty good job managing our fish populations here in America. Of course there is always room for improvement, but we have many well paid scientists, and many more poorply paid scientists working on this every day. In the meantime, obey the law when you're fishing and you will not be part of any problem. Take care, and fish on!


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