Of Rockfish and Commies
rockfish_commie image

April 1998

I love rockfishes. I've got a tattoo of one on my arm and I'll tell you why.

Rockfish are America’s Fish. It’s true. What America, the Last Superpower, needs are fishes worthy of the task we have before us. We need fishes that are tough, fishes that are rough, fishes that like interns. We certainly don’t need smarmy, girly-girl fishes like salmon. Salmon, and their effete cousins, the trouts, are all flash and no substance. Why, the only way a salmon could hurt you is if you cut your finger opening the can.

Rockfishes, on the other hand, would rather spine you a good one in the kneecap than talk to you. Even ones that have been sitting on deck for a few hours will stick you good if you try to pick them up. Think of John Wayne in The Quiet Man; slow to anger, but watch out. Or Peter Lorre in Casablanca; quiet, but deadly. Or Victor Mature in Sampson and Delilah; brawny, sensuous and unable to act his way out of a paper bag.

So, why my sudden paean to rockfishes? Is it just the vapid maundering of an itinerant marine biologist down on his luck? Or perhaps it’s some psychosis brought about by some undigested bit of cheese from last night’s supper? Well, the answer is no and perhaps, not necessarily in that order.

More likely it’s the result of my attending a board meeting of the Pacific Marine Conservation Council. This is a very good, very promising organization and I think you should all become members ($25 individual, $40 family: PMCC, PO Box 59, Astoria, Oregon 97103 or ask for information at (503) 325-8188). PMCC is made up of fishermen, scientists and other citizens concerned with creating sustainable fisheries, fisheries that contribute to the health of the many coastal communities that have fishing at their heart.

Now, much of the board meeting was spent discussing the plight of rockfish populations along the Pacific Coast. Over the recent past, the numbers of these fishes have declined markedly, almost certainly the result of both overfishing (by both recreational and commercial fishing interests) and poor oceanographic conditions that have prevented successful reproduction. This double whammy has just creamed a number of rockfish populations. As an example, numbers of the bocaccio, a major recreational and commercial species, are down to about 10% or less of where they were in the 1960s. Some other species are in not much better shape.

And listening to reports of the imminent demise of the rockfishes, I started thinking about Gus Hall, head of the Communist Party USA. Really, I’m not kidding. There really still is a CPUSA and senior citizen Gus Hall is still its head. Did you know that the Japanese honor the best samurai swordsmith, traditional paper maker or paint brush fabricator by making them national Living Treasures? These talented people are paid a stipend to continue work that is viewed as important to the Culture. I think the U. S. Government should make Gus Hall a Living Treasure, just to keep the Communist Party alive. The reality is that the U. S. just isn’t the same since we’ve lost our fear of the Red Menace. Let’s face it, we just don’t have that edgy energy we had when McCarthy was waving his list of the 542 pinko janitors who were subverting democracy while scraping hand soap gunk from the wash basins of the Federal Government.

Hey, it’s all expressed below.

Of commies and rockfish, I think,
We need to make a real link,
Because on reflection,
They need our protection,
Before they both go extinct.

Milton Love

Entertaining, yet mildly thought provoking things,
for persons with short attention spans.
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