TRANSCRIPT - Peter Taylor
Taylor is a hook fisherman in Chatham, Massachusetts and a
member of the Cape Cod Hook Fishermans Association.
Overall, fisheries worldwide are experiencing a lot of problems
with diminishing stocks and loss of fish habitat and the demise
of many fisheries, so how do you account for doing well yourself
in the fishing industry?
deny it the fisheries are in tough shape. Theres too
many fisheries in the business. I think theres too many hook
fishermen in the business, as well as draggers and gill-netters
and its too over-capitalized. The government encouraged that
years ago. And unless theres a lot of restrictions, were
facing more restrictions all the time and some of them, Im
afraid to say, are necessary. And the big thing is we really need
to cut back on the amount of fishing.
How do we cut back on the fishing effort in an equitable way? Weve
heard about ITQs, Individual Fishing Quotas versus transferable
quotas whats the best way to do it buy-outs?
are great, except when you dont have enough fish available
for everyone that has a license at the present time. So you have
to eliminate the licenses and Ive suggested this before the
last boat buy-back. Theres a lot of latent permits out there,
a lot of people with licenses on boats that dont even exist.
Start with offering to buy those latent permits not the boats
just the permits back.
find that a lot of those go; those are potential permits that could
cause problems for the fisheries later on. And thats a big
step in the right direction. And then I can go with more boat buy-backs
and youll see a lot of people get out of the business. Its
taxpayers money but I think its well spent and you see
how moneys wasted through the rest of the governments
activities and its a drop in the bucket.
They spent 25
million dollars last time and they took out a lot of boats out of
the business. If they wouldve put 50 million in theyd
be surprised, theyd take a lot of boats out of the business
and I think that wouldve solved a lot of their problems, and
I think 50 million dollars is nothing. You hear where they blow
up 2 billion dollar satellites on launch and they just shrug that
off and say, well they werent important anyway.
Were in New England is because the collapse of the cod fishery
is one of the biggest crashes in the fishing world, but somehow
thats not affecting you guys. Is this because you only go
to certain areas where youre allowed to fish you fish in a
I think the
collapse is a little over-stated. I dont feel that we ever
got to the state of collapse; I dont even think we got to
near-collapse. I think we got to the point where things needed to
be addressed, these issues needed to be addressed and they
have to a certain degree more steps needed to be taken, but
we never got to the point where I feel on Georges Bank the codfish
were threatened to near-collapse state.
I think the
scientists were wrong. I think a lot of the information the scientists
have is bad science. And the trouble is policy. Fisheries policy
is dictated by the science, which is tremendously flawed.
The National Marine Fishery Service is quite sure that the science
is not flawed at all that the numbers clearly indicate that
the amount of cod now is only a very small fraction of what they
were 20 years ago.
is, the way they acquire numbers is theyre using their antiquated
draggers to make tows, they take the same tows, the same places,
the same times every year. And I can understand that scientific
principle behind that, but what they dont take into any consideration
is that codfish will change their behavior. And places where codfish
havent been, we havent seen em in 10 years, all
of a sudden, for instance, this last April we were catching fish
where there never has been codfish before.
So my feeling
is that theres a lot of places where these codfish are, that
these people just havent been towing because they have never
historically towed there. They never take into consideration the
fact that codfish change, can change their routes, their feeding
grounds, their areas and who knows why? It could be pressure
from draggers, could be pressure from fishermen, could be weather,
could be climates, who knows why they do that, but thats not
taken into any of their science.
Do you think there is a potentially a future in fishing for your
9-year old son?
want my son in the fisheries business. I hope to send him to an
Ivy League school, honestly. And I hope he gets into something other
than the fisheries. I honestly dont see that theres
a good future for it. I see ITQs down the road, I see it monopolized
by the large boat fisheries, and thats what the government
wants. If you look at the sea clam business, they like the way thats
managed few corporations own all the stocks and thats
what theyd like in the cod fisheries. And I dont know
if wed be able to fight em, I honestly dont. Its
easy for them to manage.
You are good at what you do, but do you enjoy fishing?
There are times Im having fun; there are a lot of times its
like a job, like anyone elses job. There are times Im
having fun, there are times its horrible when the weathers
really bad, the conditions are horrible, I mean you come in the
wintertime were fighting a gale and the weathers 10
degrees and that kind of stuff theres not a lot of
fun in that anymore. But you know, you go out and you have a good
catch, prices are good, and you know you can have a real good day.
We have a trip
limit, a 2000-pound trip limit. That took away a lot of incentive.
Now you cant go with the hopes of having a good day; now if
you go and have a good day, you have to throw away the fish, because
all you can keep is 2000. That took more out of the fishing business
and me than any rule they put in place so far. Theres no longer
any incentive to work harder, because for us working harder meant
catching more fish, potentially making more money. Now there isnt
The scallopers are dredging is it basically an otter-trawl
with some kind of a blade?
a metal drag. They tow two of them. Most of the boats, theyre
big boats, and theyre heavy they weigh tons, theyre
in tons and not in simple pounds, theyre in tons and
they drag right on the bottom.
A good example
of what these heavy scallop drags do to the bottom: when that TWA
flight crashed off of Long Island and the divers and the Navy boats
couldnt pick up any more pieces, they hired scallopers to
dig, to tow their rakes they call the scallop drags rakes
to tow those across the bottom because they dig into the
sea and beneath the surface and pick out pieces that nobody could
find. So this is a good example right there of what the scallopers
Weve heard a lot about too many boats chasing too few fish
and that the fish have no place left to hide because of improving
technology to find these fish, so its even more important
to fish in a clean way. Can you comment about technology and the
impact its had on fisheries?
in places that historically weve fished forever here, in Chatham
and Harwich area. The technology really hasnt helped us tremendously.
We spent on fish finders, mine probably cost 4 or 5 thousand dollars
but on any given day Id like to throw it in the water; it
doesnt help that much, honest to god. We go where weve
always fished, the same time of year weve fished places; thats
what we do, thats what well always do.
who are actually chasing schools of fish have the opportunity to
utilize that technology better than we do. But to us, you could
probable ask a dozen of the full-time hook fishermen and theyd
just say, take it away.