Commercial fishermen are extremely conscious of their impact

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The other day while visiting Spud Point at Bodega Bay, I noticed the signs you see below affixed to the railing along the harbor. Their poor condition led me to believe they have been there a long, long time.


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Since 2008, I have personally packed off Point Reyes Beaches:

miles of plastic rope

thousands of crab buoys (one very well known bodega fisherman demanded that I give them back to him, no charge, as they belonged to him. Reminding him that he abandoned them on the beach (they were now mine) and that I hauled them out on my back, I declined his offer. This same fisherman also apologized for his meth-addict brother (his words) who nearly ripped my head off when I offered to sell him back his gear for a fraction of what it cost him to build.)

hundreds of crab bait jars

hundreds of empty bleach bottles – It was only this spring that I learned why I find so many bleach bottles on the beach in the winter. Crab fisherman use pure bleach to dunk their buoys while out at sea to kill the marine growth on them. I witnessed a fisherman at Spud Point hauling dozens of gallons to his boat in a wheel barrow. I asked him about it and he told me he usually uses swimming pool bleach, it is stronger.

A friend of mine lives perhaps a 1/4 mile from the harbor at Bodega and frequently is overcome with the strong smell of bleach.

perhaps 7-8 commercial crab pots (they weigh 70-100 lbs., I leave them above the high water mark now)

It appears the same person who wrote the book on sustainable oyster farming in West Marin (where stewards of the land have deep respect for the waters they ply), also wrote the book on how to be a commercial fisherman who is “extremely conscious”.

Meriam-Webster defines conscious thusly: awake and able to understand what is happening around you.

This past year, California adopted rules used by Washington and Oregon with the hope of avoiding the mad dash to race out and catch every single crab as quickly as possible so nobody else can catch it. The jury is still out on whether it has had the intended effect.

Something needs to be done to reduce the huge and devastating effect wrought on the sea by these greedy, often drug addled fishermen. No doubt fishing is a difficult and dangerous job. When the name of the game is get it all now, any means are used to stay awake for days on end. I’ve been told that sitting in the back of the boat, pulling pots, breathing diesel fumes for hours and hours on end is how it is. If you want to stay awake, you take whatever you need: coffee, speed, meth.

Not all fishermen are greedy, nor drug addicts – likely a small fraction. But, with the amount of garbage left in the sea (who knows how many hundreds, thousands of miles of nylon rope lay on the bottom offshore), and on our local beaches (see below), we need more and stronger enforcement of the laws. We also need fishing regulations designed to reduce the “mad dash to catch it all now.” Perhaps of greatest importance, these conscious commercial fishermen need to self-monitor their ranks. And I don’t mean pulling the other guys’ pots, stealing his crabs, cutting the rope and dumping 25, 50 or 100 pots to the bottom just because he put his pots too close to “your” spot. I do mean not dumping bleach and bleach bottles in the sea, when you change out light bulbs, don’t toss the burned out bulb into the sea. Don’t put your gear where it is likely to be cut by tugs. Don’t leave your abandoned gear all over local beaches (or national seashores), come pick up your mess, and tell your fellow fisherman to not make a mess! Salmon fishermen need to stop shooting seals and sea lions.

This winter, as you enjoy your cracked crab, remember the hard work put in by fishermen, as well as the huge impact on this one and only planet we all call home.

Perhaps crab should be $40/pound, along with mandatory drug testing for all fishermen!

After looking over the images below, you’ll surely agree that “Commercial fishermen have played a very active role in causing lasting environmental damage.”


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Human trash collected from Point Reyes beaches during six visits

Human trash collected from Point Reyes beaches during six visits

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Commercial crab trap tags. Recognize anyone you know? I do.

Commercial crab trap tags. Recognize anyone you know? I do.

Duncan MacLean, please stop wrecking fishing boats

Click on the title of this post to read it and see a related header image.

I just now sent the following message to Zeke Grader by email. I hope he is able to keep Mr. MacLean from wrecking any more boats along our coast.

Mr. Grader is the Executive Director of THE PACIFIC COAST FEDERATION
OF FISHERMEN’S ASSOCIATIONS, and, as I understand it, a long time friend of Duncan MacLean.

Hello Mr. Zeke Grader,

I’d like to relate to you my day, so that you will do everything you can to stop Duncan MacLean from ever captaining another fishing boat.

It is 9 pm and I just stepped out of the shower and my eyes are still burning from the fuel that coated me today as I wrestled in the surf with the remains of the fishing vessel Sea Biscuit, captained by Duncan MacLean.

Yesterday I received word that help was needed to remove debris from Pinnacle Beach near Bodega Bay. A fishing boat had wrecked and people wanted to clear the beach before the holiday weekend.

I drove up around 3 pm, signed in with the Surfrider people and hiked down onto the beach. My large pack full of wetsuit, booties, mud boots, bags for debris.

For an hour or two I ferried loads around a rock point so that a truck could come get them. 20-30 others did the same.

Then, as the tide became low enough, along with a dozen others, I pulled all manner of cables, fuel lines, electronics, hull pieces, fishing line from the surf. All of it coated with fuel.

I am told a helicopter will be on site next week to extract the engine, fuel tanks and other large items.

For a week now, dozens of people have cleaned up after Mr. MacLean, AGAIN!

I was witness to the results of his grounding of the Barbara Faye on 12 May at Limantour Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore. That cost the NPS over $80,000 of tax payer money. The coast guard, fish & game and others paid too. The fuel was pumped off the boat that time, I heard at a cost of over $20,000. This time, the fuel leaked into the sea. I saw the colorful sheen on the water, I feel it stinging my eyes as I type this.

Mr. MacLean walks away, maybe handing out a dead salmon to those that give him shelter or a ride. He carries no insurance, expecting others to clean up after him. He usually fishes alone for days at a time, see below for an idea of how he manages to stay awake for so long by himself.

This is the second boat Mr MacLean has grounded at Point Reyes. His first was near the same spot at Limantour in 2000.

I heard today that he has wrecked 4, maybe 5 boats in his time. I also heard that he has a drug problem. I spent 30 seconds searching the internet and came up with the article seen on the enclosed image.

The other images are from the 12 May, 2012 grounding of the Barbara Faye at Limantour.

You know this man Mr. Grader.

Please do what you can to make sure he can never do this again.

We can find other ways to buy a salmon.

He can find other ways to earn a living.

Our planet cannot endure more of his irresponsible actions.

Clearly, piloting fishing boats is not his forté.

Thank you for your time.

Richard James

Barbara Faye, the second time Duncan crashed a boat by this name on Limantour beach.

300 gallons of fuel that was pumped off the boat at great expense.

56 king salmon being hauled off the beach.

Some more images, these from Friday 31 August, 2012 as volunteers cleanup more from the wake of skipper Duncan MacLean.

And here is a link to many images showing the hard work citizens put in to clean up after Duncan.

Cea Higgins of Sonoma Coast Surfrider