Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Napoleon continued!

Today the Marianas Variety published my letter to the editor regarding the Napoleon wrasse catch by Felix Sasamoto. It was not carried in the Tribune but rather this letter from John Gourley was and so was this one from Ben Carroll of American Samoa. You can also read my initial thoughts on this blog here.

Mr. Carroll's letter is short and sweet and basically points out the CNMI is not the only area in this part of the world that has banned SCUBA assisted spear fishing as suggested by Mr. Trianni in a previous article on this subject. Apparently America Samoa has also implemented this restriction.

The letter from Mr. Gourley is a little longer and interesting in a few respects.

First, I am glad he clarified comments made by Captain Carl in a previous article in which Carl said the Napoleon wrasse was protected over in Guam. According to John it is not and this is more in line with my understanding. I was surprised when it was suggested it was. John also quite correctly points out that since the wrasse is not specifically protected in Guam that diving tourists are not necessarily going to Guam over Saipan in order to see them. These were two points in an earlier article that also bothered me.

However, where I have objection with Mr. Gourley is with his statement in which he is referring to emails from persons within government agencies...

These individuals were irate with Mr. Sasamoto because he did not subscribe to their personal point of view, and attempted to make him feel guilty about his catch. In short, the e-mails stated the two wrasse should have been left (alive) for the diving community because tourism generates much more money over time than catching and selling fish. Their entire argument was based on the pursuit of the dollar and development of the (diving) tourism industry. I can only assume these people have very little respect for local cultural fishing practices.

First, in all the meetings I have attended and the discussions I've had with those responsible for managing our recourses I have never heard anyone disrespect the native cultural fishing practices. This is quite an assumption he makes and one that attempts to do exactly what he has said the "enviro nazies" have done and that is "alienate the very group of people whom you need support"

By suggesting that people are against the way Felix caught the fish he is just trying to stir up the pot, one he himself has had great influence in bring to a boil. No one has ever suggested that Felix did anything illegal or that what he did was not a remarkable feat. What people are suggesting is that with the bigger picture in mind - that is, future prosperity for both divers and fisherman, that perhaps these two fish found at a very popular dive site should have been left alone. If, as he and others (including Felix) have suggested, the Napoleon exists in large numbers than why kill these two. They could have brought in millions of dollars in revenue. Revenue that can help build a better education system, pay for CUC fuel or even a pharmacist at CHC. All things that everyone, including the fisherman, will benefit from.

I do not know this to be fact but I'll suggest that if Felix was aware of the Napoleon's life cycle, it's ability to loose fear of divers and it's territorial nature as well as the economic boost that could be gained by making it an attraction over the next 50 years that he would not have taken that particular fish at that particular site.

The fact of the matter is that left alone to practice only ancient fishing techniques without the need to make a living by selling the fish the fisherman and the rest of us would see islands teaming with fish resources. Population pressures, not so traditional fishing practices and illegal fishing as well as the need to sell the fish at ridiculously low prices have all come together to make for a situation in which our resources are depleted.

Again no where is anyone suggesting that traditional fishing practices should be discouraged but rather a balance must be found that makes sense for everyone.

Mr. Gourley also says he thought divers came here for the Eagle Rays and not the wrasse. As much as that was once true, currently at least, there are very few rays for divers to enjoy. This could be a function of some environmental factor beyond our control or it could also be because someone out there thought there were plenty of eagle rays so it wouldn't really matter if they took a few and now they can't recover.


lil_hammerhead said...

Great Piece Mike!

With regard to your new poll.. how did Bruce make that list? He should be hunted to extinction:}

I'm linking you to my blog by the way. Hope you don't mind.

Beautiful blog.

scubatripp said...

Thanks, I'm not sure how he made it on there, ever since, ever since I've been here or maybe it was when he started to write sour grapes, he's just always been the one to take the brunt of things not so serious. It's not a scientific poll and really means nothing but maybe if he beats out the fish he'll feel good. Extinction, I'm not sure about that but, with a grain of salt? - sure!

Thanks for the link I've got one to you in my sidebar already!

lil_hammerhead said...

Thanks Mike

Anonymous said...

I put Gourley's letter in the same category as Richard's response to your original entry on the subject. Both of them suggest that you are saying mean things about Felix, which I absolutely don't read in your post.

scubatripp said...

I agree, I'm not even sure he or Richard were making references to MY comments as being anti-Felix but rather the comments made by others during the course of this story breaking.

It is such a sensitive and difficult topic that I don't think there is any need to fuel the emotions on either side. What we need is for everyone to work towards a sustainable solution. One that highlights traditional fishing practices not only to ensure they are passed on to future generations but also as a means to attract visitors that want to experience something they can not have at home.

Anonymous said...

Well said; I agree 100%

Bruce A. Bateman said...

No question about it. You trod the narrow fence well and represented both sides in a way that shows respect and understanding. Very nice work, Mike. MD is fortunate to have your diplomatic skills at work.

Biba, BB as mascot!

PS: Monkey picture is the one who should be hunted...until exposure.

Anonymous said...

OMG! Can you just put an end on this! Why don't you make a movie out of it and go back to your underwater world! Your blog is as boring as your DVD! Are you trying to make money again from this? Well, I think you need money again due to an additional mouth to feed. lil_hammerhead's blog is far more interesting than your blog cause she talks more sense than your long-ass non-sense novel!

scubatripp said...

Anonymous, the topic at hand is an important one so I doubt it will go away anytime soon.

You're also certainly entitled to your opinion. May I suggest if you don't like the DVD that you don't watch it. Similarly, if you don't like the blog don't read it.

In the future if you would like comments like this published you'll need to sign your name and take responsibility for them.

For the record anonymous comments on this blog will be published if they are relevant and constructive to the topic at hand regardless of the point of view. Conversely comments deemed to be personal attacks and / or off topic will not be published especially if made anonymously.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Tripp, I heard from a reliable source that you offered Felix to make a DVD about spearfishing in Saipan. Is that true? So, you are not against Felix but against the spot that he took the species. So if ever you will make this DVD with him, what spot or place you prefer and do you think Felix will do this documentary or some sort?

scubatripp said...

Yes Felix and I have talked in the past about doing a video of him free diving.

As I've said in my posts I am not against Felix or even spear fishing when done in a sustainable manner. In fact I am amazed by his skill and how easy he and others make it look when in fact it is not.

One thought I had was to film Felix to a blue water dive. The kind of dive where when you look down into the deep blue all you see is the light rays dancing back at you. I think it would look great capturing him as a silhouette descending with a big, clear sun ball in the background. This would also bring out our amazing visibility!