For what it is worth, here is a related post of mine from today as a guest writer at the Great Lakes Town Hall (www.greatlakestownhall.org).
|A Presidential Fish Dinner?|
A common political discussion centers on this phrase: “Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime.” This phrase has been thrown a few times during the current national election, as John McCain has alleged that Barack Obama’s tax proposals merely “give fish,” whereas McCain’s tax proposals “teach men to fish.”
I do not want to talk about tax proposals. Instead, I bring up this phrase because I find it interesting -- from the lakehugger perspective -- because it assumes that (1) there are fish to be caught; and (2) if you caught the fish, you can safely eat it. As we well know today, these assumptions are not always correct -- not in the Great Lakes region (or elsewhere for that matter). And my response is that it is one of the most important roles of government in the region should be to ensure that our lakes are full of fish and that the fish are safe to eat, for adults and -- most importantly -- for mothers and children. This is critically important, as eating fish is a wonderful way to connect us to the waters, both literally and in an emotional way (especially if we are out catching the fish ourselves, even with our kids).
Take walleyes and perch (two of my favorites) as examples. Walleyes, as a predator fish, can accumulate toxins, such as mercury and PCBs. So eating walleye -- at least on a consistent basis -- can be a real hazard for an adult male. But it can be an especially dangerous hazard for children and pregnant or nursing mothers. Consequently, one of our government’s highest priorities should be to prevent these toxins from entering the watershed and to remediate the areas that have already been polluted. This is happening now across the region to varying degrees. Earlier this summer, I was happy to see that Ohio changed the maximum recommendation for eating walleye from Lake Erie to a once-a-month to once-a-week.
Perch represent another problem for fish in the Great Lakes, as populations have plummeted from their levels nearly twenty years ago. Not coincidentally, that was also when zebra mussels were discovered in Lake. St. Clair. Maintaining perch populations, or even restoring them to levels from the 1980s, would presumably require some significant efforts to control zebra and quagga mussels that compete for food (and probably measures to prevent other invasive mussels from entering the lakes).
Too often these issues fall by the wayside, and only come up over the occasional fish dinner. As we approach the end of the Presidential campaign, it seems like we missed a great opportunity to invite John McCain and Barack Obama to a large fish dinner -- maybe with the Governors and Premiers from across the region. Maybe in 2012, we could make such a fish dinner happen, and we will have good news to share. Or better yet, maybe the next President can come to the Great Lakes for dinner next August?
You can click here to post a reply on the Town Hall's website:
Dear Fellow E-Michers:
I came across this website on a Republican blog this morning and was hoping if someone more knowledgeable could critique it.
Eg, the facts, the source, and why was it in a political blog?
I am hoping for serious discussion, not political blaming.
I want people to be able to fish and eat the fish from our Michigan waterways.
I have read the Michigan advisories but do wonder at times how the benefits and risks really stack up.
Michigan needs to find ways for our people to make more connection with our waters, not less.
Is there any hope that our fish can become safer to eat in the future?
If many or most of our pollutants are from airborne contaminants, can we ever reclaim our fish as food sources?
Do we have serious plans to pursue ways of reducing pollutants from airborne sources so as to protect our waters?
Obviously, we can work on doing a better job of managing our water resources at the ground level, but will airborne contaminants negate our work?
Pat Crowley, Kalamazoo