For starters this column wishes you and yours a happy and prosperous new year and along the way we hope you learn to touch the Earth in ways that increase your love and knowledge for its fragile life systems from which we get our sustenance and sense of belonging.
Fishing, hunting, gathering and farming are examples of group enterprises where the primary objective is to produce food for ourselves and society at large. NOT long ago there were more hunters, fishers and farmers than any other group and they worked to supply food for the general good of the community.
That all changed when the burning of fossil fuels freed up millions of people who worked the land and we started to manufacture tools which did the works of animals and men. One of the major inventions of the fossil fuel age was leisure time.
In modern society there are now more recreational anglers than there are commercial fishers, who fish to sell their catch on the open market. These anglers build expensive boats and spend huge sums of money for fishing rods that are designed to catch only one fish at a time.
Many of the new fishers do not eat or keep any of the fish they catch. The development of fossil fuels and their attendant use to produce energy made it possible for the majority of people to live in urban areas where they didn’t do anything to help supply their own food to eat. It is only recently in modern society that there are now more people living in urban areas such as cities than there are living in places where people farm to produce food.
Two weeks ago about 200 countries from around the globe met in Paris to discuss the problems being created by the human population of the planet, in producing too much carbon dioxide and other heat-producing gasses into the waters and atmosphere of our Earth.
These gasses are heating both the waters of the planet and its near-Earth atmosphere. It seems in the space of a few thousand years we have gone from a race that had to work hard to get enough wood to heat the cave, to one that is now producing more heat than we need from fossil fuels such as coal, oil or natural gas.
All of this luxury of leisure time and warmth seems to have encouraged us to produce more people than the planet can handle. All of which leads up to some challenging New Year’s Resolutions.
Resolution #1: I seriously suggest that all freshwater lakes of a certain size be considered as open only to boats that are powered by humans, suitable electricity, or wind.
Resolution #2: The regulations for catch-and-release fishing be one or two above the daily retention limit. Example – Daily retention four fish. Daily catch-and-release limit six fish.
I respectfully suggest that the term meat fisherman be considered in a positive frame and that all fish retained be kept in a cooler or other suitable device to properly control the temperature of the fish. Fish kept in this manner remain fresh and edible in warm weather.
Resolution #3: To spend one day of each week in the fields, forests or waters of this magnificent place – Vancouver Island. The only detriment would be dangerous conditions due to changing weather.
Resolution #4: Wherever possible double up with other fishers or hunters to reduce the amount of fossil fuel used in travel.
Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column for The Record it has won several awards.