Prized catch being fished into oblivion | Nov. 22
Fish consumers deserve a voice
Columnist Rob Kramer of the International Gamefish Association is a representative of sport fishermen and I am a commercial fisherman, so it's probably no surprise that our views on bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico differ.
Kramer says, "In 2007 an estimated 61,000 metric tons of bluefin were actually caught in the eastern Atlantic despite a quota set at 29,500 metric tons. This is both irresponsible and unfair to game fishermen around the world who play by the rules."
I would like to add that it is unfair to the commercial fishermen who play by the rules here in the western Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Kramer wants to solve the underreporting in the eastern Atlantic with a shutdown of the Gulf of Mexico?
I don't believe this is just about bluefin. It's really about how the IGFA would have Americans forgo tens of millions of tuna and swordfish dinners so that big boys can play with their big toys chasing fish.
Since the "Give Swordfish a Break" campaign ended, according to the government, swordfish stocks have been rebuilt. There is one problem: The swordfish fleet that survived has not been able to fill the American swordfish quota, and a big reason is many large closed areas. As a result, other nations want the United States to give part of its quota to other members. These other nations' fishermen will get the fish on the backs of the sacrifices American fishermen have made to keep sustainable fisheries.
I believe bluefin have been overfished and need protection, but the fishery in the gulf is a bycatch fishery. Protection of bluefin should start with the directed fisheries. Because the gulf is a spawning ground for bluefin, there should be closed seasons in different areas to reduce bycatch — not a blanket closure for the whole gulf.
The use of more observers on fishing boats in the gulf should be encouraged to get good information on all bycatch and move forward to a time where, with an observer on board, a dead marlin or other fish can be brought to the dock and sold, as is done all over the world.
On any given day, far more Americans are sitting down to a seafood dinner of swordfish, tuna, mahi, shark and wahoo than are going fishing for them. These consumers deserve consideration also.
Mark Twinam, St. Petersburg
U.S. can't bring all troops home from overseas
A recent letter writer (Some ways to trim fat in budget, Nov. 20) makes some good suggestions on how to cut the U.S. budget, but there is one I must address: the pulling all of our troops back to the United States.
The $180 billion savings would be from ending the actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, which I agree with. But pulling our troops from Germany, Japan and elsewhere would cost, not save, money.
The troops would still need to be paid and fed, so there are no savings there. And we would have to build bases here to house all of these troops, which would mean large expenditures. Also, the United States does receive some financial assistance, such as the $2.2 billion Japan pays each year to maintain our troops there.
The idea that we could rapidly mobilize troops from the United States to respond to an overseas incident is not credible. Even if we had a larger number of transport ships, it would still take two weeks to reach Europe or three weeks to reach the Indian Ocean — too late to deal with any threat.
Bob Bost, St. Petersburg
The federal budget and you | Nov. 14
We'll have to settle for less
From roughly 1950 to around 2005, American governmental units — federal, state, county and municipal — had the luxury of practicing the politics of more. It was easy to promise more Social Security, more Medicare/Medicaid, more retirement benefits and more for social programs because the national economy was growing, and it was easy to let the next Congress, state legislature, county or city commission worry about paying the tab down the road.
Well, American is now down the road and must learn to practice the politics of less — and it ain't going to be pretty.
Public employee unions, whose pensions and benefits promised decades ago are now grossly underfunded, will fight all efforts to reduce government spending to cut those benefits. On the other hand, the Americans working in the private sector, whether in large corporations or small businesses, will resist having their taxes raised in a recession to pay for the fat pensions and benefits of public employees at all levels of government. On top of it all, nobody wants his or her Social Security or Medicare/Medicaid benefits — present or future — reduced.
As the politics of less really gets ugly, the likely casualty will be the military, which will be downsized to protect strategic American interests rather than be a global police force. Businesses large and small, along with individuals, will see exemptions and deductions disappear. If the home mortgage interest and property tax deductions go, home ownership will become expensive. Younger Americans will opt to rent and not worry about high mortgage payments and the constant upkeep costs associated with home ownership. Contractors, along with Home Depot and Lowe's, will suffer.
Finally, as voters painfully adjust to the politics of less, government appeals to address or remedy abstract problems or crises will fall on deaf ears. Altruism doesn't operate well on a slim or empty wallet. All solutions from both the left and right implicitly say the average American in the future will have to look forward to doing with less.
Franklin D. Roosevelt's "golden summer of the future," a line he used in many of his speeches, is now over and we're all bracing for the inevitable fall season.
David P. Carter, Seminole
Schools, students and the sneakers | Nov. 22, editorial
Voting with their feet
I was disappointed in this editorial praising Hillsborough schools in their efforts to verify that students are attending their "correct" schools. Instead of paying attention to the powerful signals broadcast by parents voting with their children's attendance, Hillsborough County is instead choosing to enforce mandates that are bizarre considering how consumers choose suppliers of other goods.
Suppose that other goods that we demand were chosen like our schools, based on where we live. A local "gas station board" would draw up districts that tell you where to fill up. You could get your hair cut only at the salon closest to your residence.
Would it be any surprise that consumers would try to sneak past these diktats and into suppliers of their preference? And would the proper remedy be to spend more resources verifying that citizens are using their approved suppliers? Or would it be more just and efficient to allow consumers to make their own choices, building up and shutting down schools with their collective choices?
Matthew Curran, Lutz