Part 5 of a 6 Part Series - by Kirie McMurchy
During my interview project with Living Oceans Society, I heard many different hypotheses for what happened to the fish stocks and the fishing industry. I thought that this excerpt from my interview with Dan Griffith, a Sointula resident since 1974, addressed the over fishing element of the problem quite well. In his interview, Dan also addressed the mis-management issue as well as the issue of logging destroying salmon spawning streams.
Excerpt from interview with Dan Griffith, (contributed with permission).
"Fishing was a way of life that disappeared for us and we had no real way of dealing with it. And greed got in the way because everybody wanted to catch more fish."
"A few years ago I went to Nicaragua. Somebody from [the fishermen’s] union had gone there and witnessed a huge storm that washed a bunch of their boats ashore and wrecked their little fishing fleet. So they thought: 'oh gee we could do a real good thing so we’ll build a boat and send it'. "
"It took ten years but they built this boat, a beautiful big boat that we would love to have here. So they send it down there and they had all manner of fishing gear on it – it was a total combination boat. You could fish whatever you wanted with this boat. [It has a] nice, big diesel engine in it."
"Well... Most of their fishing is done there out of twenty foot skiffs with thirty-five horse-[power] outboards. They go out in the morning, they catch some fish, [they] bring them home, sell them to their neighbors, and then they take the afternoon off and then they go fishing the next day."
"[When] that boat [project] first started, we were still fishing most of the time. By the time they shipped that boat to Nicaragua, we were cut down to fishing two or three weeks a year. We get down there and we find out that they’re still fishing three-hundred and sixty-five days a year, and they can keep anything they catch. We could only keep a salmon, if we caught one, unless we put out another hundred grand and bought another license."
"And so we’re trying to send them our technology and our way of doing things that has totally failed us. It took me a couple of years after I got back to finally recognize the reality of this whole situation and what it meant. It kind of made me really stop and think. They were trying to fill their bellies, we were trying to fill our bank accounts. You can’t do it unless you’re keeping your rivers supplying the planet with the fish, you cannot keep catching them to the point that we were. It’s the same with the logging. They cannot keep on cutting down the trees as fast as they are to feed the mills in the United States. All of our industries are disappearing. What will we become?"