As Gammon pointed out, the problem with gill nets is that they are indiscriminate in what they catch. Since March 10, at least four endangered California gray whales have become entangled in gill nets, and on March 17 a gray whale died near Los Angeles Harbor after it had become entangled in a gill net. In addition, these nets catch scores of sea lions, porpoises and marlin every year.
This year I introduced legislation to ban gill nets within three miles of Southern California's coastline and to provide incentives for commercial fishermen to convert to less destructive gear.
Through technology, man has gained near-control of his environment. If not properly regulated, this technology can lead to disaster. Gill-netting is breaking the rules of nature, and its practitioners are taking life away for short-term economic gains. If gill-netting is not prohibited, soon Georges Bank and other fishing areas will be devoid of life for good.
Mount Vernon, Wash.
As a commercial fisherman in North Carolina, I take offense at some of the statements made by Clive Gammon. His article was one of the most one-sided I have ever seen.
Comparing six-pack ring holders and gill nets is like comparing apples and oranges. Nothing was ever said about the millions of miles of monofilament line that so-called sports fishermen strip off their reels every day and throw overboard. This line becomes entangled and kills fish, too. I also dispute the implication that commercial fishermen are the reason for declining Gulf king mackerel landings. Nothing is said about sports fishermen, who are allowed a much higher quota (2.31 million pounds for July '88 through June '89) than commercial fishermen (1.09 million pounds for the same period).
The article said nothing about the sophisticated equipment that headboats use to find fish for sports fishermen. They locate fish the same way we do. If they couldn't find the fish, they wouldn't be in business. As for the quality of a gill-net catch, the fish are in much better shape than those caught in trawl nets or by some other ways of fishing. If fished correctly, gill-net fish are of very high quality.
I feed my family with the income from the fish I catch. I can assure you that we commercial fishermen are very concerned about our resource. On the other hand, I have watched sports fishermen catch bluefish by the thousands and leave them on the beach to rot. Sports fishermen have a lot of money and use it to lobby for their self-interest.
JOSEPH G. FARROW JR.
Who is Clive Gammon? After reading his story, I see a sports fisherman who doesn't like competition from the commercial fishing industry and wants the commercial gear banned. He quotes the National Coalition for Marine Conservation, but some of us familiar with the NCMC are convinced that this group wants all the marine resources it can get for the sports fishermen, and to heck with the consumer.
Sure, some gill-net operators are guilty of abuses, but you don't condemn an entire segment of society because of what a small percentage of the participants do. If we commercial fishermen and sports fishermen weren't yelling at each other all the time, we might find a way to cooperate with each other.
Southeastern Fisheries Association, Inc.