Sunday, February 22, 2009

A parable

A little story I wrote to protest the killing of wild fish. This was specifically in response to a post on Washington Fly Fishing regarding a 30 Lb. steelhead caught and killed on the Hoh river on the Olympic Peninsula.

A parable:

Once upon a time there was a great river. It ran free and wild from the glacial mountains all the way to the sea, and was filled with wild steelhead. Anglers fished it for years, and tradition and legend were powerful. Then, one year, the state decided that revenue generation was needed through increased fishing license sales. To that effect the state allowed a single wild steelhead to be harvested per angler-per day. Pressure increased, but no one was worried, after all, the river had over 30,000 returning wild fish per year. Ten years later the fishery collapsed. Everyone searched around for the culprit. Some blamed the Native Americans, others the foreign anglers. People blamed the commercial fishing boats out at sea, they blamed the cormorants, the seals, pollution, bears, etc. They decided to have a meeting in the town hall to determine what had happened. Angry and concerned anglers and citizens filled the limited seats and spilled out into the aisles. For hours people spoke, expressing their opinions. Experts showed charts and graphs. Finally one old wizened soul with unsteady hands and hunched back went up to the lectern. "I been lis'nen to ya here, and I think I can tell ya what's what. I lived on dis here river all my life. I got three pounds 'a pretty pebbles in my pocket. I'm puttin them on this here table, and I want each of ya to come up here an' take just one." The old man produced a mound of shiny polished colorful stones on the table, and each concerned citizen went forward to select just one from the pile. When they were done, there was just one semi-precious stone left. "Now I's gonna tells ya what happened to the fishes" the old man said. He slowly walked over to the single remaining stone, and grasping it gently between his shaking fingers, raised it up to the light, and then slowly placed it in his pocket. "I got mine" he said. He slowly walked out of the meet'n hall. The citizens hung their heads, and muttered protests and realizations could be heard. "But I only just took the one..."


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  2. Will,
    Thanks for your comment! Hope all is well with you and yours.

    Sad indeed. We don't know what we have until it is gone. Amazing lack of historical perspective. From the cod fishery and atlantic salmon in the east, to the total decline of the Skagit, Sauk, Thompson, etc. All of it is right before all of our eyes.
    But still, "I gotta get mine!"
    I doubt that anyone from forks reads this blog, but if they do, it would be fun to hear their perspective.

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  4. Eric,
    this is a wonderful example of Garret Hardin's "Tragedy of the Commons".

    Going back to the Ancients, Thucydides once said "They devote a very small fraction of time to the consideration of any public object, most of it to the prosecution of their own objects. Meanwhile each fancies that no harm will come to his neglect, that it is the business of somebody else to look after this or that for him; and so, by the same notion being entertained by all separately, the common cause imperceptibly decays."

  5. Seems to me that we are starting to see a "Get em' while you can!" attitude.

    Instead of people working to preserve a threatened species, they are starting to greedily hoard the last of them for themselves. (ala B.C.) Taking what they can, before they are all gone. It's pretty indicative of the greedy nature of people in general.

    And don't get me started on the Brits. They did such a wonderful job on the Atlantics. Hopefully the belief that English royalty has a right to rape and pillage a resource, while the 'commoners' do not, is long gone.

  6. Coulee,
    Thank you for the excellent quote and reference. We all think we make so small an impact, but all of us together and oblivious, make an enormous impact.
    Where did those darn passenger pigeons go?...

  7. Wow Erik! You sure hit the nail on the head with that parable!
    Sounds like it came directly out of the PNW.

  8. It's time we all get involved and support the Wild Steelhead Coalition and the Native Fish Society.

    Change must happen, NOW!


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