I may have misspoken when I referred to them as "subsidies." Commercial fishermen are now receiving tax-incentives to compensate them for some of their overhead in the operation of their vessel--for instance for some of the Lifesaving equipment. That is not quite the same as saying that they are receiving "subsidies." That was my fault for choosing my words poorly.
And yes, I agree that there needs to be a transition of sorts. I think the industrial fishing industry's activity should be on the decline, and should eventually reach a point where it is at some sort of equilibrium with the ocean's ability to replenish itself, but I feel that this transition should be painfully slow, so that it is not painfully quick, if you get my meaning.
Unfortunately, aquaculture is not yet ready to take over the burden of feeding the world's appetite for fish; though I think it will ultimately come to that. There are serious environmental implications involved with fish farming, and in some cases, aquaculture has been shown to speed to demise of some wild fish species. Not to mention that farmed fish have been shown to be genetically inferior, more susceptible to disease, less tasty, and less healthy than wild fish. There really does need to be a lot more research and development done before we start thinking about turning to farming.
Perhaps restructuring the subsidies so that the fishermen have the resources needed to either start up aquaculture or find another line of work.
Unfortunately, aquaculture, unlike commercial fishing, is not very labor intensive, so there is no way that the fish-farming industry is going to be able to absorb the mass exodus of displaced fishermen over the next 15-20 yrs. But I very much agree with you that there needs to be some benefit or subsidies system to help fishermen transition into other fields. It's funny you should mention it, because there actually is a federal program to help out-of-work fishermen pay for their continuing education to help get them some marketable skill outside of fishing, and I have known of a couple of fishermen to take advantage of it.
It's a tough problem in that suddenly cutting off the subsidies and instituting a ban will bring localized disaster...
Indeed. It is always tough to make national policy when the stakes are so localized, no matter how acute or disastrous the consequences may be to that locality.
In any event, the towns based on only fishing will have the tough problem of either finding a new industry that can support them or drying up.
True. It's already happening. The town where I live has relied on commercial fishing for over 100 years (not to mention sustenance fishing for hundreds of years). It is slowly sinking in here that it is changing: fishing boats are for sale, fishermen are looking for other means or are trying to get Captain's Licenses from the Coast Guard so that they can operate charters, etc. It is bleak, and they know it is bleak. Unfortunately for them, it is not all about numbers and dollars and ecology; it is about a way of life. And for many of them it was the way of their father and their grandfather... Not to get too sentimental about it, but I lament the fact that history, or civilization, seems once again to be mowing down one of more romantic occupations.
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Insults are the first and last arguments of fools. -- Unknown
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