Cuttings (short and sweet):
Spoils (long reads and deep dives):
Please add your own cuttings and spoils in the comments!
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Last month, a team of marine scientists (which included Andrew and I) published a paper pointing out that intentionally killing the largest and most fecund members of IUCN Red List Threatened species is not a good thing and could be easily stopped (by stopping record awards entirely for these species or moving to a catch and release model)
Our recommendations were not universally supported by scientists, and we received criticism from respected colleagues largely in the form of “this isn’t a particularly big problem, no serious people care about it.” There was also an official response from the IGFA to this effect, which we issued an official response to. Sure. It isn’t the biggest problem in the world, but it is a problem. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a conservation problem that’s easier to solve.
A petition created by the Blue Planet Society based on our recommendations has, as of this writing, surpassed 6,000 signatures from all over the world, including many from scientists, fisherman and professional conservation activists. The paper has also been widely discussed on social media
Presented here are some quotes from scientists, fishermen and conservationists supporting our recommendations. While this support does not inherently mean that the issues we raise are important, it certainly shows that lots of serious people care about it.
In both my professional and private life, I am a man who wears many hats. I am a deep-sea ecologist, a science writer, a goatherd, a geneticist, a conservation advocate, a grill master, and many others. When David asked me to join him in co-authoring “Trophy fishing for species threatened with extinction: A way forward building on a history of conservation” I did so not in my capacity as a marine science Ph.D., but as a recreational fisherman who cares deeply about the survival of his sport. Without fish, there is no fishing.
I was, at first, skeptical, but over the course of a summer, I came to appreciate what David was trying to accomplish.
I wrote most of my thesis on this boat, with a rod in the water.
Before I talk about fish, I need to talk about birds.
A giant pangasius, one of the Endangered species of fish that is targeted by trophy fishermen. Photo by user GV_Fishing, WikiMedia Commons
Andrew and I (along with several co-authors) have a new paper out in the journal Marine Policy entitled “Trophy Fishing for Species Threatened with Extinction: A way Forward Based on a History of Conservation.” You can read the paper here, and view the official press release here (will be up soon) .
We believe that this is an important topic that does not get enough attention, and we wrote the paper to review the scope of the problem, propose an easily achievable solution, and facilitate a long overdue discussion. Although we intentionally wrote the paper to be accessible to anyone, this blog post serves to explain the concepts and issues in the paper even further. We are happy to answer any questions people have about the paper, just ask them in the comments section below.
On Friday afternoon, Slate published an article I wrote about Rosie O’Donnell killing an endangered hammerhead shark. Since that time, there has been an active discussion about the article and the surrounding issues on twitter (follow me here) and Facebook (like my page here). Some of the same questions keep coming up, so I decided to gather these questions, and their answers, in one place.
1) Why are you writing an article about this instead of going to the police / isn’t this illegal?
Since January 1, 2012, it has been illegal to kill great, smooth or scalloped hammerhead sharks in Florida state waters. They must be “immediately released, free alive and unharmed.” Rosie killed this hammerhead before 2012, so it was not illegal at the time. I never said it was illegal.
2) If it wasn’t illegal, what’s the problem?
“Not illegal” is not synonymous with “there are no negative consequences to this action, and it is above reproach.” There are lots of things you can do that are legal but bad. There are some things that are illegal but are not bad. “Legal” and “ethically acceptable” are different thing. I do not think that it is ethically acceptable to kill an endangered species for fun and then yell at conservationists and scientists who criticize this action. Also, if the best you can say about an action is “it wasn’t technically against the law when I did it,” you may want to reconsider the ethics of your hobbies.