Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Things to Do"

(Photo:  Canada goose from Harlem Meer last summer.  Crippled from fishing line ensnared around leg.)
Although the ice only melted on Central Park's lakes and ponds over the past couple of weeks, the hobby "fisher" people are already out with their long lines and polls.
Neither the fish nor the birds nor the turtles catch much of a break.
I have of course been critical of the so-called, "Catch and Release" fishing in Central and other parks and this might make one appear like some sort of "fanatic" to some.
After all, what could possible be wrong with the "fun" catching of a few fish and throwing them back in the water?
Aside from the obvious distress to the fish for what is trivial and questionable cause, there are the issues of birds caught in fishing lines, turtles accidentally caught, dead fish thrown back in the water and dead fish illegally taken out of the park or even given away to passing kids -- all of which, I have personally witnessed.
And although park "rules" dictate that the fisherman (or kids) shouldn't be "casting"  back the long lines (and possibly injuring passers-by), casting is done all the time. In fact, I almost got hit by a line being cast when coming out of Lasker swimming pool at 9 PM last summer.
The fishing takes place at Harlem Meer long into the nights of spring, summer and fall.  One woman told me the fishers are out in the summer until the park closes at 1 AM -- something that did not at all surprise me.
So no, I am no fan of the fishing in the parks.  In fact, even in the places the fishing is not allowed (such as Turtle Pond) it still occurs. 
It is up to aware park goers to notify park officials when seeing fishers at Turtle Pond and other off limits areas.  Any fishing there is particularly harmful to the turtles and other wildlife at Turtle Pond.
That turtles, birds and other delicate wildlife also exist at Harlem Meer doesn't seem to bother park officials.   When asked why the fishing is allowed at the Meer, I was told by a park ranger that the people of the community need "things to do."
Of the list of "things for people to do," I don't believe that menacing waterfowl, fish and wildlife should be one of them.
But, of course that is just my opinion.
Or, at least so I thought until learning that "overfishing" is not just an issue in our local parks, but in fact, a global and oceanic issue of very serious proportions.
A couple of weeks ago, in one of the exotic animal segments of "The Tonight Show," we were informed that most species of Penguins are now "endangered" due to humans overfishing the waters.
It seems the penguins are in competition with humans for their supplies of sardines and other small fish to eat.
Are humans really dependent on sardines to live? 
Well, the penguins are.
This morning on "The Today Show" actor, Ted Danson, who has written a new book about abuse of the oceans also talked about the perils of overfishing and the very real possibility of wiping out most of the oceans fish species by the end of this century:
Scary stuff to hear. 
But, is it really so "far fetched" or "hysterical?"
When one understands the delicate interconnection of species and fragile web of life, its not far fetched at all.
Just as other species of birds are often reliant on the wariness and protectiveness of Canada geese, all other species are interconnected in various ways.  Destroy or take out one of the "links" of life and it affects everything else.
We are currently witnessing the potentially devastating effects of overestimating our abilities to control both nature and the nuclear technologies we create to "manage" the earth's energy resources.
Last year we witnessed the wide and long range destruction associated with deep water oil drilling gone wrong.
It seems that on the list of "things to do," we need to seek ways to conserve, respect and protect the earth's irreplaceable resources, rather than squandering, plundering and ravaging them -- often for trivial and questionable cause.
Whether the small fish in park lakes, the geese and pelicans in the skies or the great whales, dolphins and penguins of our oceans, its past time to recognize our role on this planet as stewards of the earth, rather than plunderers and destroyers of it.   -- PCA

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