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Captain’s Log: Thank You, Ocean

A campaign gives gratitude where it's due, but be wary of its unsuspecting undercurrents.

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The Thank You Ocean Campaign is designed to raise awareness about the value of the neighboring seascape and sealife. (Capt. David Bacon / Noozhawk photo)

The Thank You Ocean Campaign is alive and well. Our state and federal governments understand our feelings of gratitude and appreciation for the sea. A couple of years back, at the California and the World Ocean Conference 2006, they launched the campaign designed to make all Californians more aware of the value of our neighboring seascape and sealife. The campaign builds appreciation and calls for aquatic research and improved water quality. Take a look at www.thankyouocean.org. It is a touching piece of work.

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Capt. David Bacon (Ramona Lisa McFadyen photo)
Why does this campaign make me smile? Because our government is coming around to the way we fisherfolk have long felt and is doing something to help us educate people about the treasure we call the sea.

Sure, there are those who will try to put a spin on this campaign to oppose all forms of fishing and gathering — you can count on it. The campaign will afford most folks, however, an opportunity to genuinely give thanks for everything the sea provides us, including food and recreation. We certainly owe a debt of gratitude to the ocean for giving freely of her bounty.

On a personal level, I feel a spiritual bond with the ocean as a result of making my living at sea. I am grateful for sustainable fisheries and for all the wondrous sealife people enjoy watching. Feelings of gratitude well up from deep in my breast as I give thanks in prayer for being able to help people understand and appreciate the ocean and her creatures.

The Thank You Ocean campaign is organized by the California Resources Agency and NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program, who partnered in the design and execution of the campaign. The campaign is supported by the Ocean Communicators Alliance, a group of more than 100 ocean-related organizations, agencies and businesses in California.

It can be a very beneficial campaign in terms of heightened public awareness for the value of the ocean. We must be ever watchful, though, lest opponents of fishing can’t resist the opportunity to spin the campaign into an anti-fishing propaganda war.

This is a valid concern because the Ocean Communicators Alliance includes so many of the same organizations that recreational fishing interests find on opposing sides of political issues that come before professional fisheries managers. Click here to check out the list and notice that organizations representing fishing interests and fishing publications are noticeably absent.

I question and challenge why the Ocean Communicators Alliance doesn’t have adequate representation from the recreational fishing community. We are one of the premier stakeholders when it comes to ocean management. I worry that without appropriate representation in the Ocean Communicators Alliance, future campaigns and political posturing will fail to properly address our important concerns and therefore put our rights to fish at risk.

The brief public service announcement available on the Thank You Ocean Web site’s home page does give consideration to fishing, however, so I am hopeful that we can all continue to walk arm-in-arm on this particular campaign.

In the announcement, a family is sitting down to a barbecue and the chef says, “Thank you, ocean.” That scene could refer to either commercial or recreational fishing. In another scene, a surf angler makes a fine cast. The scene serves as homage to recreational fishing.

These are good signs that the campaign gives due consideration to our conservation-minded heritage of recreational fishing.

Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a new nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need.

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