Week 4: Rule[r]s

With Week 4 under our belts, we’re just about halfway finished with the program. I’m amazed at how fast time is passing (have I said that enough yet?). The mild, spring-like winter we had in the Midwest this year, combined with spending my actual spring in the Caribbean and my summer in a place where temperatures hover around the 50s and 60s, has disoriented me. I feel as though it is springtime now and that the humid Midwest summer is still to come, but instead I will be greeted with fall when I return home. Strange.

The weather this past weekend was cool and damp, keeping us mostly indoors. I’ve been focusing on getting into a productive routine where I can accomplish small pieces of different things each day. My date with the GRE is looming, and I’m trying to make sure I crack open my study book for a bit every morning. Among that, working, going on a quick jog in the evenings, and making myself dinner (and one or two…or three episodes of The Good Wife), the day can get eaten up fast.

I’ve settled into a comfortable routine at ODFW that seems to be working well. I usually do research, data entry, or other computer-based tasks in the morning and interview crabbers in the afternoon. Lately, I’ve been getting about 8-9 interviews a day, which is more than I was getting when I started off, so that’s exciting.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the law. Rules. Maybe it’s just my mild addiction to a TV show about a law firm, but I think reading up on commercial and sport fishing regulations has gotten me thinking too. Especially about the difference between making a regulation versus simply encouraging people to do something. When it comes to the Dungeness crab fishery (and other fisheries as well), catch limits and restrictions keep the fishery thriving and sustainable. For example, even though ~90% of legal Dungeness crabs (male, larger than 5 ¾”) are taken from Oregon waters each year, enough crabs reproduce to sustain the population. With other things, such as the use of floating and sinking line, perhaps it is better to have fewer rules and more education. Perhaps rules and laws are always more effective. But now I’m tapping into a debate practically as old as America, so I’ll stay content with just musing for now. Regardless of rather an issue is better solved by regulations or encouragement, it is helpful when people have compassion for the earth – it makes them want to follow rules and recommendations. This seems like a factor that is hard to account for in deciding which course of action to take.

Differences among fishery regulations have also caught my attention during my research. In the Puget Sound sport fishery, for example, the minimum legal Dungeness crab size is 6 ¼” and the daily limit is 5 males (instead of 12, as in Oregon). Sorry for delving into numbers, but the amount of research and monitoring that is necessary to make regulations like this is a point of curiosity for me. Something – fishing effort, crab population dynamics, something – caused rules in these two fisheries to be made a bit differently. Rather this is indicative of extensive research, differences of opinion, or small bits of arbitrariness in the system, there is an interesting story behind these rules. I am fascinated by how much human effort, will, and opinion is behind laws and rules, things that seem so absolute and cold.

In fear of bombarding you with pictures of sunsets, I’ve included a lone photo of me measuring an ocean-caught crab. We have our mid-summer check-in (with a PowerPoint presentation and some workshops) and camping trip this week, so more on that soon.

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“Claire, I can’t see your face.” — Justin

As always, thanks for checking in.

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1 thought on “Week 4: Rule[r]s

  1. That is wild the difference in amount and size of crabs allowed and “catchable” in the Puget Sound compared to the Oregon coast. I am super curious as to why they’re so different. You stated that the Dungeness populations are doing well enough to be sustainable at our current limits, I wonder if becoming more strict with regulations like Puget Sound would cause the populations to boom? I am also curious as to the health of the Dungeness population up in Puget Sound.

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