500 Tons of Squid Caught By Mistake in a Week. That’s a Problem.


AP has word of a deal reached between the government and Bering Sea fishermen to reduce the quantity of squid they catch “incidentally” in pursuit of pollock, a bland white fish that goes in sandwiches and fish sticks. In early July, fishermen caught more than 500 tons of squid in a week. (This number is four times what might be expected; it’s unclear why there are so many squid in the area this year.) The deal requires that fishermen avoid a 500-square-mile area where most of the squid were found and imposes fines on violators.

bycatch_265x181.jpg

Fish and other marine life caught “incidentally” in the pursuit of another species (such as the seal in this photo) are known as “bycatch.” As we reported in our recent special issue on the fate of the oceans, it’s a massive problem. According to the U.N., one in four animals caught in fishing gear dies as bycatch, meaning that each year millions of animals are killed, which obviously affects the sustainability of fisheries.

On the bright side, in this particular case squid bycatch plummeted from almost 550 tons in the first week of July to only about four tons last week, according to AP.

By the way, the the U.S. Senate has approved a package to renew the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the fundamental rules for ocean fish catching (which includes provisions relating to bycatch). The House, however, is dallying, and is considering a bill sponsored by Richard Pombo (aka Ocean-Enemy Number One). Pombo’s bill, to quote today’s San Francisco Chronicle, is “riddled with loopholes,” and “mocks the problem” of ocean resources management.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.