The title is Confessions from the Lone Shark Conservationist Who Supports California’s Drift Gillnet Fishery (at http://organiccreativity.com/eatusseafood/?p=115) and I’ve taken the liberty of reproducing the first paragraphs below:
Preconceived opinion not based on reason or experience.
I admit I used to be prejudiced towards gillnet fisheries. I used to believe that all gillnet fisheries should be shut down, period. In my defense, all I knew of gillnets were the injuries that they can cause. During my time as a volunteer for the Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center from 2007-2011, I personally rescued over 20 sea lions with gillnet entanglements. Although 100% of these animals were eventually released alive, the sights and smells of those injuries throughout the rehabilitation process still haunt me to this day. I didn’t understand why gillnet fisheries still existed and I was hungry to learn more. And thus began my incredibly humbling journey to learn more about California’s set and drift gillnet fisheries which target swordfish, thresher sharks, halibut and white seabass.
I’m telling my story for a couple reasons. First because I know a lot of folks share my intense passion and genuine intention to help preserve our world’s oceans, but like me are not very sure where and how to start. I want to share some lessons I learned the hard way in an effort to prevent you from wasting your time. I’m also writing this because I think it’s scary how easy it is for someone that knows very little about shark fisheries to be considered an “expert” on the subject with the power to influence other like-minded conservationists. And finally, I want to show how it’s possible (and quite necessary) for shark conservationists to understand and support responsible shark fishing. This is contrary to popular belief for most so if you disagree I urge you to read on. The only problem is that my story is so complicated that I split it into two parts so please stay with me.
The blogger is Jonathan Gonzalez, a graphic designer with a solid and obvious commitment to ocean conservation. What separates him from the crowd, and what brought his blog to my attention, was his unwillingness to accept at face value the myriad of commonly held “truths” of marine conservation and his willingness to devote himself to researching what’s really going on in our oceans and in our fisheries.
Five minutes invested in reading the “about me” page on his website (http://organiccreativity.com/eatusseafood/?page_id=61) will tell you all you need to know about his bona fides as a committed marine conservationist, and Part 1 and Part 2 of his Confessions will provide you with an inkling of the research/learning process that he went through when he realized the human dimensions of the “save the sharks” campaign he was involved in. Quoting from his blog once again:
The chef asked me, “So you say I can’t serve this thresher shark meat because it’s not sustainable, but you say it’s OK to serve this halibut that was caught it the same net as the sharks? I don’t get it.” I didn’t get it either. I don’t remember what I told the chef after that, but I said enough for him to remove local thresher shark from his menu. What I do remember is walking away feeling very dirty. For the first time I asked myself, “What the hell am I doing?” “ How did I get here?” “Am I really doing the right thing?” This gut check was another life-changing moment.
I can’t recommend too highly his blog or his personal website, Organic Creativity, at http://www.organiccreativity.com/html/contact.htm. His description of the learning process he went through is invaluable and should be mandatory reading for anyone who has bought hook, line and sinker into marine conservation campaigns without considering their human impacts or the degree to which they are based on facts.