This morning I read in our local paper about the cancelling of the Gulf of Maine shrimp season. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission made the decision to close the fisheries after it was shown that Gulf of Maine shrimp population was at its lowest level since 1984 and that a "report released Nov. 21 by the fisheries commission’s Northern Shrimp Technical Committee concluded that the stock has collapsed." The reason? Rising ocean water temperatures, over fishing and the absence of springtime plankton, the shrimp's main food.
I agree that it is important to do what we need to do to preserve our natural resources whether those resources be a gorgeous mountaintop view, timber forests or the Gulf of Maine Fishery. We need to manage these resources in such a way that they will be there for future generations enjoy and make use of. We are only now learning the dangers of overuse and of pushing our resources to their limits. I agree that closing the fishery, hopefully only temporarily, is the right thing to do when taking the long view.
However, I also know that this decision will have a huge impact on those who depend upon the annual shrimp harvest for income. Whatever the industry one works in so many people live paycheck to paycheck these days. The fishing season often runs from December to May. That's six months of income many folks, whether fishermen or those that process and sell the catch, or restaurants that serve fried shrimp to tourists, will not have this coming year and now, like so many of us, they are finding themselves trying to find ways make do with less.
These are not easy times. Whether looking at the potential loss of a once thriving fishery, the economic impact that this loss of income will have on individuals and communities, or the emotional impact of seeing friends and loved ones struggle to make ends meet, we begin to recognize that one individual's hardship (one creature's hardship, one ecosystems hardship) is everyone's hardship.