How the environment affects bottom lines
News that one of our most important fisheries, the shrimp industry, will be hindered by a shorter season this winter was alarming for several reasons.
Our greatest concern in stories about the fisheries is always the people of Midcoast Maine who depend on working the water for their livelihoods. In the past few years we have seen fishing families struggling in both shrimping and the lobster industry.
Fishermen, many self-employed, face high overhead when it comes to boats, fuel and gear. That leaves little margin for loss from a shortened fishing season or more regulation.
However, we as a community cannot look only at this year, but at the future of fishing in Midcoast Maine. If over-fishing is allowed, the entire enterprise can become unsustainable.
Researchers say there are fewer shrimp to be harvested right now and the stock needs time to replenish. In fact, regulators came close to deciding there would be no season this year, which tells us we may be in for a few lean years to come.
The reasons, in addition to pressure from fishing itself, are less clear. Some are saying warmer water temperatures are changing the life cycle of the shrimp and fewer are surviving to be harvested.
This is another sobering reminder that in Midcoast Maine, preserving the environment is critical, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because many jobs depend on a healthy ocean ecosystem.
Many species have very specific requirements for their survival, and the environment can be more delicate than we like to believe.
The state of Maine should continue to dedicate resources to studying the factors that affect the fishing industry and enforce carefully considered regulations to sustain it for future generations.
This week in history
"Tora! Tora! Tora!" was the message on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, with which the Japanese indicated that they had achieved complete surprise in their attack on the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor. The battle that propelled the U.S. into both theaters of World War II was a tragedy in its own right. About 2,000 U.S. sailors and soldiers died and another 1,000 were wounded, according to History.com. About 20 vessels in our fleet were destroyed including eight battleships. Shortly after the battle, "Remember Pearl Harbor" became a common expression. It has been 71 years, and we continue to feel the ripples in history that took place on a little Hawaiian Island.
It was Dec. 1, 1955, when Rosa Parks, an African-American woman refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama, according to History.com. Four days later, the Montgomery Bus Boycott was launched in which African Americans refused to ride the bus as a protest against segregation. The boycott led to a victory for the Civil Rights movement when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered integration and Martin Luther King Jr. emerged as a civil rights leader.