Somewhere off Cape Cod a gillnet lies in the ocean . It's monofilament strands of thin plastic impossible to see, negating thousands of years of evolution that have given marine mammals an edge through intelligence, excellent sight, hearing, and the ability to hold their breath for long periods of time. They have no chance of avoiding this invisible killer, and once entangled there is little chance of escape. Marine mammals die there alone and frightened. The ability to hold their breath, which was once an evolutionary advantage, now only prolongs their suffering. There is no hope anyone will come and get them out, and these nets may never be hauled at all. Gillnets are lost and dumped when gillnetters deem them to be ineffective or too costly to repair. "Ghost trawls," are dumped back into the environment where they continue to kill and maim all manner of sea life.
When the gillnets are hauled, even if there are multiple marine mammals entangled and dead, they will be set right back out when fishing is good. The only public notice given to the sad carnage, is a few complaints about damaged netting caused by the struggle of marine mammals to survive. The bodies of dead mammals are thrown over the side and left to drift serving as a sad reminder to the depredations of man to others.
The fact that gillnetting is made possible by donations from the Wal foundation (Of Wal-Mart origin) leads to the question....
Should Wal-mart Sell Seal Meat?
It is a valid question and one that deserves some consideration. The large seal populations in the North East and particularly the Cape Cod area are currently in no danger of collapsing from any kind of fishing activity. Despite the fact they are often killed and injured by fast boats, entangled in plastic, drowned in gillnets, poisoned by oil spills, and even intentionally shot, their population continues to thrive. As the death toll from fishing activity in the region by traditional small boats is finally observed ( The same fishery that enjoys so much environmental group and foundation support), the public are ignorant of such practices and it's high time for a discussion about the illegal dumping of dead seals and whether it would be better to utilize their bodies for food.
In the 1900's seals were hunted in the US and Canada. Harp and hooded seals were hunted for their fur gray and harbor seals were bounty-hunted to the brink of extinction by policy enacted to reduce their population. Conflicts between seals and coastal residents centered on the seals impact on fish. Predation by seals and the spread of the seal worms to valuable fish stocks caused seals to have a bounty placed on them. In the North East they were hunted and culled from the region. Since the passing of the Marine Mammal Protection act in 1972, the seal populaiton has been rising. The appropriate size of their population is the subject of much debate and presently the seals seem to have very few friends left to represent existence premised on sustainable population groups, which have a de-mimimus impact on the environment.
Today seals are protected by laws that prohibit interfering with marine mammals and harming them. One of the reasons Cape Cod has so many seals relates to the decision many years ago to preserve portions of it's natural coastline. Cape Cod has become a massive tourist attraction with attendant destruction of near coastal and inland natural resources The seals are blamed for the decimation of river fish populations, but scientific observation presents strong evidence that points at a lack of fresh water. Water utilization and waste during the high traffic tourist season is advocated by marine scientists as the heart of the matter. Some of this blame has turned to anger against the seal population resulting in not so isolated incidents of shooting and other abuses.
Until recently it was not widely known how many mammals were being killed by the supposed environmentally friendly fixed fishing gear industry on Cape Cod. Fixed gear fishermen enjoy the support of politicians like Governor Devall Patrick and the donations of enironmental foundations and trusts. The Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fisherman's association is largely a group of gillnetters whose only hook fishing activities center on targeting troubled populations of bluefin tuna, (a species which barely avoided an endangered species listing just a few months ago.) Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fisherman's Association's actual activities are not well known. Their championing of private ownership of fish populations and campaigns against other fishermen (Fishermen who have considerably less by-catch or environmental issues), have made them the darlings of the media. They are accorded a free pass to engage in unsustainable fishing practices and the slaughter of marine mammals at will.
Many fishermen have recently lost their jobs due to privatization schemes. This has left a large and growing number of former fishermen who for the first time have no reason to keep industry practices secret. Like the former gillnetter, that supplied the image of a seal's dead body being lewdly dis-respected, there are many whose hearts are filled with regret. They refer to gillnets as, "Floating walls of death," and many support the outright banning of the fishery. The majority of countries in the civilized world have banned monofilament drift netting. Additionally people who think seals should be eaten for food have stated that they deserve a more humane death than slow drowning. The stories, images and video of former fishermen will be a valuable resource moving forward on this contentious issue. No matter the outcome of the debate, the truth will no longer be green washed out of it by organizations with hidden agenda. They like monofilament gillnets lie in wait for the naive and unwary, awaiting the opportunity to drown the innocent in a web of lies and deceit.
Grants to support this group of traditional marine mammal killers provided by...
Alex C. Walker Foundation,
Cape Cod Economic Development Council,
Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation,
Gulf of Maine Council on the
Jessie B. Cox Charitable Trust,
Massachusetts Department of Fish & Game,
Olive Higgins Prouty Foundation,
Pew Charitable Trusts,
Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies,
Prospect Hill Foundation,
Sailors’ Snug Harbor of Boston,
Surdna Foundation, Inc.,
United States Department of Agriculture,
University of New Hampshire,
Walton Family Foundation,
The link provided leads to an extensive list of businesses and organizations....
Here is a link that describes my bias...
And one final link from Fishtruth.net showing the large amounts of money flowing form foundations to this group