What is it about the ruthless sea? An acculturation in agricultural landscapes, full of flower buds, dewdrops, fresh hay, kittens and baby lambs cannot prepare you for the hard, chilling mechanics of a mechanized fish harvest. To my tender agrarian eyes, the fishing business is brutal. We may call them “stewards of the ocean” but lets face it—they are killing fish.
-Severine on the Alaskan fishing commons in “A Farm Organizer Visits Fish Country: Part II,” for In These Times. Read the rest of the article here!
“For many terrestrials, and certainly for me, the ocean and fisheries are a foreign place. We cannot see into the sea and don’t know much at all about what goes on there, except perhaps familiarity with the blanket-term “over-fishing.” Young agrarians of the rangeland know well that a blanket critique—that the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service’s policies lead to “over-grazing,” for example—is not enough. Indeed after decades of handing over mining, drilling, grazing and mineral rights on public lands, there’s a flank of the environmental movement calling for privatization of over 400 million acres of public lands. Another flank, the Rainforest Action Network, is calling for a moratorium on the sale of mineral rights on public lands.
We need to look more closely. We need to survey what we already know. And we need to build from there.
Some of us have followed the campaigns against factory fish—the Costco victory against GMO salmon, GMO soy oilbeing sold as pelletized fish food and the pollution caused by fish farms. And we have heard hype about aquaculture projects and been confounded by this glamorization of international fish farm development projects. We use kelp supplements for our dairy animals and soil mix, but don’t know much about the controversy behind them. For the most part, we aren’t much connected as producers with fisher people whose fish-meal we farmers buy. (I hope this article may woo a few young farmers to study across the boundary of the seashore and help us discover our common causes.)
So, what’s the difference between a well managed and a poorly managed commons?”
-Severine on the ocean commons, in “A Farm Organizer Visits Fish Country: Part I” for In These Times. Read the whole article here!
This past Fall, Severine travelled to beautiful Alaska and wrote three comprehensive articles based on her experience for In These Times. From Halibut festivals to fish processing boats to the rugged Alaskan homesteaders, she explores three questions fundamental to her journey:
- What can the farming community learn from the highly managed, and highly abundant commons of Alaska? Are these lessons applicable to land?
- What do young agrarians have to learn from the governance and politics of a wild fishery?
- What does a wild fishery have to learn from the cultural activities of agrarian organizers?
Convinced? You can read the three articles, Part I, Part II, and Part III on In These Times.
But maybe you’re still not sure why young farmers should care about the ocean? We’ll be posting a few short excerpts on the blog throughout day, and we suspect they might just change your mind.
Any commercial fisherman used to be able to fish in U.S. seas. Not anymore. Today, the right to fish belongs to a number of private individuals who have traded, bought and sold these rights in unregulated markets. This system, called “catch shares,” favors large fishing fleets and has cut out thousands of smaller-scale fishermen. How did this happen? Learn more in this short animation from the Center for Investigative Reporting.
For more information on this story visit CIR online:
Here’s the place where you can find your local fisher people who would be happy to partner with you in bringing local fish to your local community. With provided maps, vendor locators, resource guides, how-to’s and newsletters LocalCatch.org can help you become a role-player in the sustainable fishery movement!
Stay informed about our waters and click here!