Re: NANFA-- a bit on the Pacific salmon debate

Christopher Scharpf (
Fri, 29 Oct 1999 08:33:25 -0400


You've sent this news item while I am reading Carl Safina's book, SONG FOR THE
OCEAN. I've just begun the section on Pacific Northwest salmon. One sentence
seems to describe the salmon debate perfectly:

"The Northwest is perhaps the best place in the world, for example, to study
finger-pointing elevated to art."

For those of you not familiar with Dr. Safina's book, I heartily recommend your
picking it up. It is a passionate, beautifully written, often heartbreaking
elegy on the state of the world's oceans. It's divided into 3 sections: bluefin
tuna of the North Atlantic, salmon of the Pacific Northwest, and reef fishes of
the Indo-Pacific. It's about wildlife, and it's about people -- the people bent
on destroying the ocean's resources, and the people bent on saving them. Here's
a passage:

Flying over the Valley of the Giants in Oregon (named for the great evergreen
forests, Dr. Safina sees "a far-and-wide landscape of mud, stumps, slash, bark
and a few green sprigs...the land, forcibly stripped naked, the stump-studded
hills standing in goose bumps, suffering from exposure. The cutters won't
willingly leave trees along the streams to keep the water cool and clean for
salmon, but they will voluntarily leave trees along the roads to fool us into

Here's another:

"I believe large parts of our oceans are depleted mainly because we treat marine
creatures as commodities, forgetting that they are wild animals breeding in
natural habitats. In reality, marine creatures are the only wild animals still
hunted on a large scale. The language used in fisheries is a forced attempt to
induce amnesia on this point. Fisheries people talk incessantly of 'harvesting'
fishes, and even of 'harvesting' whales -- trying to impart a sanitized and
agricultural tone, as though hunting the largest creature ever to live on Earth
by firing bombs into their bodies is analgous to picking watermelons that have
been planted and cultivated. Fish populations are referred to as 'stock,' like
shoes in a warehouse."

I could quote many, many more wonderful passages.

Chris Scharpf

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