Utne Reader Project June 98

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Utne Reader Project Jun 1998

-- Anonymous, November 04, 1998


UTNE READER, 6/98, Lens Publishing C. Minneapolis, MN. Article: "Ocean Solitaire," by Bill Mckibben, pp. 60+. This article intiated personal thought, concern and interest in the life and wellness of the ocean waters. However, my interest did not stop with the problems about the ocean, of which the article is written, but went on to be concerned for the great fresh water lakes that are in our area, Northern Minnesota. The ecological system, oceanic and fresh water systems, are all a part of a continuous chain, dependent upon each other, and if one section of the chain breaks or is destroyed, then there is failure of the chain. I picture the fishermen of the past with a three fold purpose: 1, to feed his family, 2, to feed others by selling fish, and thus, making an income, and 3. to fish for the sport. If purpose "1" and "3" would have prevailed, the oceans probably would not be in such a state, but as soon as purpose "2" enters the equation, the world's waters have problems. Why, because of human greed and disregard. Everyone wants more. There is little concern for those we do not know or see. Human nature takes over and the fisherman wants to bring in more fish than anyone else, make more money and prosperity for he and family, and make more money with less time and work spent. Improvements to fishing boats, equipment and technology turned a simple way of life into a business, a business that would eventually destroy its source. People have always thought of this planet as having an endless supply of raw materials, and nobody will heed an alarm unless it directly affects them. Maybe there needs to be a complete moratorium on the catching and eating of fish inorder to give scientists time to see if there is any hope of recovery in the oceans. However, all of the people put out of work with the closure of the fishing industry world wide would have unbelievable effects on people's lives. These people out of work would have to find other areas of work, be trained, probably relocate and need compensation. What government would take care of that? The ocean, aside from 200 miles off national shorelines, is open to all to sail and fish. Who would and should police that? There are too many questions, and too few answers, and the waters are running out of time and paying the price. Bill McKibben raised awareness to all of these concerns. He relayed interesting facts on aqua farming as an answer to the decline of fish in the oceans. In Chisholm, MN, there was an attempt at aqua farming, but it didn't work with one problem sited as difficulty in cleaning the water for city use. McKibben quotes from Mark Sagoff, who stated in an article written for "The Atlantic Monthly" last year, "... our economy depends far more on the progress of technology than on the exploitation of nature, [and] resource scarcities do not exist or are easily averted." (p. 103) People now days, I think, do feel that technology will be able to get this would out of the problems of lack of resources, just use technology will just invent something that will take its place and be just as good and, maybe, better. Another article in "The Utne Reader" entitled "Counter Cutlure: How one Alaskan fishing community is saving the salmon," reminded me of the fishing laws in Minnesota that were put in effect a few years back. It is illegal to keep fish that are out of the slot, or designated length. This law has been in effect on our local lake, Rainy Lake, for the past few years and a "Catch and Release" program has also been in use. This past summer I heard some fishermen say that they feel fishing may be on the way back on Rainy, but it took a drastic move like this and allot of criticism and anger to make it happen. Maybe the oceans, if it is not too late for them, need to have these laws. In reading the Steven R. Covey book, "Principle-Centered Leadership," (Franklin Covey Co., Fireside Books, Pub: Simon & Schuster, NY. 1991) there is a chapter entitled "Seven Deadly Sins" (pp.87-93) which are seven things that will destroy us as stated by Mahatma Gandhi, and I could not help but relate them to the article on the fate of the oceans, "Ocean Solitaire", in the "Utne Reader" by Bill KcKibben. The "Seven Deadly Sins", as stated by Gandhi, are: 1. "Wealth without work". - Isn't that what the fishing industry did? They wanted larger catches for more money that involved less time and less work? 2. "Pleasure without conscience." - The fishermen were not concerned, or conscientious, about over fishing an area. They showed little concern for the future of the industry. 3. "Knowledge without character." - Whether there is too much knowledge or too little, there needs to be character development that makes wise, sound, conscientious decisions. If we have knowledge of the past and the present and understand it, then we should be more responsible for the future. 4. "Commerce (business) without morality (ethics)." - Yes, the fishermen did have a business and did have to make a living, and yes, the idea of capitalism is trade, but people should not take part in trade without ethics. The question that needs to be asked is, will the decision be good for all concerned. Integrity. Principles. Win-win agreements and decisions. 5. "Science without humanity." - Science needs to work with humanity, not against it. Science and technology should not ignore the human element. Too often science and technology seems to want to replace the human. 6. "Religion without science." - Often, I think that fishing is a religion! Maybe the fisherman needs to make a sacrifice and not fish, or, at least, throw back the fish. 7. "Politics without principle." - Too many governments got involved in fishing grounds and rights and made too many enemies in the off shore fishing battles, and none of them got involved until it was too late. All of the fishing grounds had been over fished by that time. Where were their principles? Where was their integrity? Where was their concern for others? - a win-win agreement. In conclusion, the greatest fear that I have whenever I hear of the depletion of a natural resource, is that future generations will not be able to enjoy and live on this great planet as we and our ancestors have. "Save the earth." - and that includes its waters.

-- Anonymous, November 13, 1998

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