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May 24, 2006



Sounds a bit like the story of the 3 little pigs has been turned into the story of the 3 little mullets.

steven davies

In my early to mid teenage years fishing was all I thought about. £5 a week pocket money was enough to buy all the sweetcorn, luncheon meat and bread I needed to go fishing every spare day. That is exactly what I did. In fact,now I go fishing most nights too.


Thanks, Cynthia--pithy comment, as usual!


Newfoundland is not a high priority, as far as the Canadian government is concerned. When a Russian factory ship was recently captured with 22,000 tons of cod on board, the Canadian government decided to send them back to Russia -- with all the fish -- so that the Russian government could handle the infraction. I'm sure it was very diplomatic, but it didn't help the Newfoundland fisheries or the cod populations at all. Of course, if cod does come back (and because one female can produce 4.5 million eggs, it seems that it should be possible to repopulate the Grand Banks, if we could just safeguard a generation or two), it seems likely that Newfoundland will never again be able to muster the kind of fishing fleets they once did, as most of the more than 30,000 out-of-work fishermen have found work elsewhere, usually in Western Canada, though a lot have gone to Boston. (One taxi driver, a former fisherman himself, told me that there are now more Newfies in Boston than in Newfoundland.) So Newfoundland is focusing on trying to develop other jobs, so that the island doesn't completely depopulate. Recent oil finds offer promise, but tourism may be their best bet. They are terribly picturesque.


So tell us more about Newfoundland--can they not enforce the rules re foreign vessels on the Banks?


I'll be interested to read about the tale of how mullet fishing was curtailed.

And as for the social upheaval comment, I didn't mean that the banning of fishing would have no effect on anyone, just that Florida does have a few other industries besides fishing, so while individuals were adversely affected (and I'm of course very sorry for those individuals), it didn't destroy the entire economy, as happened in Newfoundland, where there was no other industry. Of course, even this clarification may be showing my ignorance -- perhaps in some areas of Florida, mullet fishing was significant, and I just didn't realize it. Most of my experience of mullet was buying it smoked from small, family-run stands by the side of the road, like the farmstands that I've seen disappear from the roads around here in Illinois.


The upheaval for Florida after the net ban already has occurred--many fishing and fishing-related families were put right out of business by it, swiftly. Eventually some were able to transition into the farm raising of clams or oysters but others either went on welfare or struggled to find work in other fields. Many told us that the ban was achieved by people purporting to be environmentalists who were actually trying to get their hands on coastal property all over Florida in order to develop it and leave the "fishing" to sport fishermen. This is a complex story we will be telling elsewhere.


My dad was born and raised in St. Petersburg, FL, so even though I grew up near Chicago, we spent enough time visiting his relatives for mullet -- particularly smoked mullet -- to have become an important part of my childhood. One of my favorite photos of my dad from when we were young was him standing at the end of the pier with a spear in his hand, catching what would be our dinner. It got to the point where my folks had to stop at a smoked mullet stand (they used to line the road) on our way into town from the airport, as soon as we arrived. So I'm kind of sorry to hear that its availability is becoming limited. I just got back from Newfoundland, and they're suffering from the problems of overfishing, as well, though most of the problem there is a result of foreign ships poaching on the Grand Banks. However, while a mullet shortage might limit one's access to tasty smoked fish, I dought that Florida will suffer the kind of social upheaval that has been the result of the fish shortage in Newfoundland.

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