Here’s why …

Growing up poor and landlocked, the nearest I ever came to saltwater fishing was reading about it in the pages of the (then) big three sporting magazines.

And while I’m not yet an old fart, I’m also old enough to remember reading stories by the likes of A.J. McClane, vicariously living out saltwater fishing adventures through the pages of Field & Stream and whatever books I could find at the library or used book stores …

One such long out-of-print book in my meager collection is “Fishing in America” by the late, great, Charles F. Waterman. Published in 1975, the book features a photograph and caption that warned us – almost 40 years ago – where we were headed, and as it turns out, where we are now.

The black-and-white photograph shows a huge 696-pound bluefin tuna being hoisted aboard a boat off Cape St. Mary in Novia Scotia in 1972. The caption reads “This splendid fish is no longer plentiful in most of its former haunts. Certain age classes have almost disappeared. Those caught are larger and fewer, an indication that basic stock is not being replenished”

I thought of that photograph when I saw this story the other day

ScienceDaily (June 22, 2009) — _According to the most recent report on the status of the world’s fisheries by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, fisheries supply at least 15% of the animal protein consumed by humans, provide direct and indirect employment for nearly 200 million people worldwide and generate $US85 billion annually. This same report indicates that 28% of the world’s fisheries stocks are currently being overexploited or have collapsed and 52% are fully exploited.
The full report can be found here.

The language is dry, technical and devoid of emotion but like virtually every other depressing ocean study we’ve seen in the past decade or so, the message it sends is heartbreakingly simple: we’re killing our oceans, we know we’re killing our oceans and despite a lot of warm and fuzzy international treaty agreements and non-binding platitudes about doing the right thing, we’re not doing the right thing and we’re going to continue not doing the right thing until our oceans are, quite literally, empty; a watery version of the surface of the moon. Hooray for us.

I’ve always dreamed of fishing for tuna, so here’s the message the study is sending me: Whitetails will always be here, Chad, so go pawn a few guns, book a trip and catch a tuna before it’s too late. Because at some point, and probably sooner rather than later, it’s going to be too late and you don’t want to spend the rest of your life gazing at pictures of things long gone.