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such as banning fish pots, protecting spawning
aggregations for certain commercial species as
well as size, and seasonal limits in our lobster
fishery, that the recovery we are aiming for,
and think we see in some sectors, is still far
below the actual restoration needed to sustain
a yield over years, decades, generations.
For many people the obvious question,
when faced with a story like this, is what hope
is there for correcting this situation and getting things right?
These octogenerians are fond of saying that
at their age the best fishing day is the one you
are alive to experience. And so I am struck that
as he finishes “the best fishing day ever,” Donald proposes a solution that would potentially
see his favourite fishing spot become a “no
fishing” area beyond his reach.
If this group of ocean experts, with all they
have seen, experienced and know, bothers to
make a suggestion that might work, then it
hints that they have not resigned themselves
entirely to the total and inevitable decline
they have witnessed over the course of their
lives. This suggests to me that there might
be some hope.
So while we are gambling that we have the
On this day, Canton and
Tucker fish about seven miles
southwest of the Island.
wisdom to do something to address these
declines, let us also hope that it can actually
be extensive enough to pull us back into alignment with the basic principles of reproduction: life on the reef and in the ocean that
surrounds it needs, at a fundamental level, to
be left to itself.
We have to leave enough of “something”
out there that is doing that wonderful dance
with “something else” out there; otherwise we
will end up with nothing out there.
It is as simple as that.
Yeats said, “Things reveal themselves in
passing away,” but perhaps out there below the
water we have missed it.
If these elders can see it, if they can call for
it, I believe that there is no one that can argue
against it. There can be no rational reason for
not pursuing a dramatic and meaningful solution: to do nothing in one special, set-aside
place and let nature restore itself.
And so we come back to the end of a perfect
January fishing day—coney skins lying unmolested like orange stoplights on the bottom
six feet below. Will we keep going as we are or
change direction? Will we bother?
I have hope that we will.