Fall 2003

Plundering the Pacific

Part 1: The CATS
Who Run
the Fishhouse

Imagine the CEO of Weyerhaeuser appointed to run the national forests. As part of the deal, he gets to keep his old job. Federal law wouldn't allow it, of course. It's a simple conflict of interest. But when it comes to the folks who regulate ocean fishing, conflicts of interest are not only permissible, they're a regular part of the game. Full story.

Western Pacific council pushes plan to quash historic coral reserve. Council puts corals, spiny lobster and rare monk seal at risk so a few can profit. Full story.

They took millions of lobsters, and monk seal pups starved to death. Graphic (large file).

Science Friction. Industry resists Pew Commission’s call for change. Full story.

Marine mammals killed by Pacific fisheries. Graphic (large file).

How to speak “fisheries”. Full story.



Part 2: The Rockfish Files.

Documents show the Pacific Fishery Management Council ignored scientific advice as it let the bottom dwellers crash. Full story.

These stocks are down. Hundreds of tons of imperiled rockfish are killed and wasted as bycatch each year in West Coast fisheries. Graphic (large file).

Private ownership of a public resource? The IFQ debate. Full story.


Part 3: Essential Coral Gardens

North Pacific council rejects plan to protect coral and sponge, though the plan meant
little reduction in commercial fishing. Full story.

Protecting our Undersea Yellowstones. Scientists find marine reserves build bigger fish and produce more young. Full story.

From Baja to Bering. Exploring coral and sponge secrets along the West Coast and Alaska. Graphic (large file).



Net effects: A conservation map of the North Pacific. Graphic (very large file).



Fixing our Failed Fisheries.

What you can do for the Pacific Ocean.


More information:

North Pacific Ocean Conservation Directory.


Poachers R Us
A follow up article from Dec. 31, 2003, in the Honolulu Weekly








2003 Cascadia Times


Plundering the Pacific


How to speak “fisheries”


The Cascadia Times Fall 2003 issue, "Plundering the Pacific," investigates the decline of the North Pacfic Ocean and its wildlife in the wake of decades of industrial scale fishing.

The 24-page print edition contains numerous graphics and full-color photographs that richly illustrate this report. Please support Cascadia Times with your subscription or by making a donation. Thank you!

Reprints are available for $5 each. For reprint information, please contact us at cascadia@spiritone.com.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council is based in Portland, but meets every few months in cookie-cutter hotels up and down the West Coast. Their meetings can last a whole week, though to the novice even one session can seem like an eternity.

They are open to the public, though few people not connected in some way to the fishing industry ever attend.

Perhaps this is because attending is rarely convenient. At a recent meeting of the North Pacific Council in Anchorage, an agenda item of interest to conservation groups was scheduled for Friday. Or Monday. Or Tuesday. So be prepared to stay the whole week.

The agenda, of course, requires much more than a third-graders’ understanding, if not patience. Those who seek a chance to comment on a damaged coral ecosystems will not easily discern from the printed agenda when it might come up. If it ever does. Coral is essential to rockfish ecosystems, but rarely discussed at council meetings.

The biggest barrier, however, is language. At a council meeting, you are likely to hear something like, “The oy is less than the msy in the fmp for the dst, says the ssc.”

What this means is that some fish are going to be caught. But you can be fluent in 18 languages and still not have a clue.

Public access to council meetings is a serious issue, says Mark Powell of the Ocean Conservancy. He’s been attending them for years as a conservation advocate. He’s found that council members will listen “semi-politely, and make snide comments and ignore you.”

Citizens shouldn’t let the jargon, the agendas and the pro-industry bias discourage them from attending and participating, Powell says.

If you want to influence a decision, or even file a lawsuit if you don’t like a decision, you have to make comments on the record.

And it’s ok to make them in plain old English.