Disaster Relief?

A bit of a change of gears here. Many of you are familiar with blogs I have written about injustices for those who appear on sex offender registries or their families, or who are prisoners or former prisoners. I have also written about those who have been attacked for being different.

I’d like you to consider another category of people. I’d like you to look at fishermen and the businesses shoreside which depend upon them.

As happened a number of years ago, the small guy is being pushed out of the business of supplying food by regulations which ignore the big corporations. Agribusiness now runs large swaths of farming lands, which have largely been abused by corporations who care only about today’s profit, not the productivity of the land by practices of crop rotation and other organic NON-GMO means of crop protection. The result: perhaps the loss of bees, perhaps the loss of Monarch butterflies, perhaps the new dust bowl that seems to be occuring in the midwest. It’s hard to say what the result is because no one wants to anger the agribusinesses that are producing our food by researching these topics. Perhaps they are too big to fail?

In the oceans, the same thing is now happening. Unfair quotas which keep fishermen from landing catches don’t apply to the huge businesses which can sell what they catch in some foreign port because they have permits from several countries. The big factory fishing vessels use drag nets, which pick up everything in the ocean without regard for size or location. Gill nets, which most smaller fishing vessels use, stand still on the bottom. The mesh size keeps fish of the wrong size from being caught. Smaller fish swim through the meshes, while larger fish “bounce” off, like it was a wall.

Now the individual fishing vessels in the Gulf of Maine qualify for disaster relief because the government has restricted their fishing so much that they can no longer make a living by fishing. The disaster relief funds are largely a joke. They amount to, maybe, a month’s worth of income as it was before quotas. Forty years ago, we were saying that the oceans represented limitless supplies of protein. Now, because the patterns of fish migration make it look like the stock is decreasing, we say that no one can catch very many fish and land the catch at an American port. By the way, did you know that in the colonial period, they thought that they had “fished out” the cod fish from the Massachusetts coastal waters? Obviously, they had not. It was a normal cyclic maneuver by the fish. It has happened before and will happen again.

Then, to add insult to injury, the disaster relief funds do not cover shore-based businesses which depend upon the small fishing vessel for their livlihood, like people who hang nets for those fishermen. Shouldn’t disaster relief include all those affected by the disaster? When we give disaster relief for a hurricane, do we cover only those affected by water, but not those affected by wind? Of course not. A disaster is a disaster and all affected by it should be covered by the relief funds.

Simple justice requires that all affected be equally treated.

I don’t see many such instances, where all are in fact treated the same. Perhaps it is time we got back to that practice.


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