Saturday, May 13, 2017

A message for and from the Governor

If Minnesota had a higher percentage of days like today, the legislature would be voting to build walls along our eastern, southern and western borders to keep out all the riffraff who want to move here. It's fishing (walleye) opener and the weather is close to perfect. No doubt some are complaining about a lack of "walleye chop." Let 'em. There'll be enough days with that during the rest of the regular fishing season.

St. Louis River and Duluth Harbor need more clean-up
St. Louis River and Duluth Harbor need more clean-up
Photo by J. Harrington

Have you noticed the Health Department's recent report about lowering blood levels of mercury by getting people, especially women, to change the kinds of fish they eat? "... they switched to eating more species low in mercury, like Lake Superior herring or whitefish." As far as I know, there's not much of a recreational fishery for Lake Superior herring or whitefish.

is this water clean and fish safe to eat?
is this water clean and fish safe to eat?
Photo by J. Harrington

On the other hand there's a notable recreational fishery for walleye, northerns, trout, bass and pan fish. There are separate statewide consumption guidelines and water body site specific guidelines available for those fish. How well those guidelines align with the Department of Natural Resources increasingly site specific, species specific, possession limits I don't know, but have suspicions any coordination is extremely limited. It's basically impossible to judge with the naked eye what may be contaminating our waters and the fish that live in them. We have to rely on government for that information.

All of this seems to present the average fisher with an option to catch and release everything, and buy fish at the local market, or to engage the services of a lawyer, statistician, and/or actuary to try to be legal and safe if fish are actually caught for consumption. You have heard of a fish fry, haven't you?

Now DNR wonders why they don't sell more fishing licenses. It may be a consequence of public officials who encourage growth in polluting industries and undermine enforcement of existing environmental regulations. There's as many jobs on a dead planet as there are fish in a desert. Time to change our ways and emphasize fishing for sustainable employment and restorative economic development. Something to think about if you make time to read the Governor's veto message on this year's Republican legislature passed environment omnibus budget bill. We can have good-paying jobs and a protected environment, but only if we stop electing and supporting those who see it as either/or instead of both. The last election there was widespread failure on that front. Let's not make the same mistakes in November 2018. One way to reduce health insurance costs is to clean up environmental contamination. Right?

Fishing


By A. E. Stallings


The two of them stood in the middle water,
The current slipping away, quick and cold,
The sun slow at his zenith, sweating gold,
Once, in some sullen summer of father and daughter.
Maybe he regretted he had brought her—
She'd rather have been elsewhere, her look told—
Perhaps a year ago, but now too old.
Still, she remembered lessons he had taught her:
To cast towards shadows, where the sunlight fails
And fishes shelter in the undergrowth.
And when the unseen strikes, how all else pales
Beside the bright-dark struggle, the rainbow wroth,
Life and death weighed in the shining scales,
The invisible line pulled taut that links them both.


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