| Striper Wars Eye of the Whale The Man who Knew Too Much
Black Genius Jesse Ventura James Hillman
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MY BIOGRAPHY OF JAMES HILLMAN
The first volume of my new book, "The Life and Ideas of James Hillman," is being published in June by Helios Press, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing. Volume one of the biography is sub-titled "The Making of a Psychologist." This is the result of more than seven years of research, and I hope that even those with even a passing interest in psychology will find it of interest. I'll be updating here concerning my appearances, reviews, etc. Meantime, please check out the book cover, the publisher's press release, and an announcement concerning my upcoming lecture at the Jung Institute in Los Angeles. - Dick Russell.
The Winter of the Monarch
by Lincoln P. Brower and Homero Aridjis
In 2000, I visited the monarch butterfly sanctuaries in Mexico with Homero Aridjis, Lincoln Brower, and others. It was one of the most memorable experiences I've had in recent years - the stunning beauty of millions of these wondrous creatures festooned in the trees above us. As this piece in the New York Times by Homero and Lincoln demonstrates, the future existence of the monarchs - surely one of the great natural wonders of our planet - is theatened in several ways. This is a tragedy, and calls for action, especially on the front that Americans can fight: the proliferation of genetically modified organisms.
- Dick Russell
50 Reasons For 50 years
Recently Len Osanic interviewed me about my research into the Kennedy assassination, as part of his ongoing series "50 Reasons for 50 Years." I hope you'll check out his five-minute YouTube video.
- Dick Russell
December 20, 2012
Bottom of Food Chain is Top Priority
by Dick Russell
On behalf of a little baitfish that’s not consumed by humans, it was amazing to witness 350-plus fishermen gathered in a Baltimore hotel conference room on Dec. 14. The 15-member Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) had come together to decide, at long last, whether to regulate the annual harvest of Atlantic menhaden. Over 150 people from eight states, including 18 from four Massachusetts fishing organizations, were on hand. So were dozens of workers from Virginia’s Omega Protein Corporation, whose “reduction” fishery in the Chesapeake Bay accounts for 85 per cent of all the menhaden landings.
Menhaden are a vital link in the ocean food chain, a major food source for striped bass, bluefish, weakfish, marine mammals, sea turtles and seabirds. As menhaden numbers have plummeted, striped bass are suffering from malnutrition and bacterial disease. Omega Protein’s is the largest fishery on the Atlantic coast and, until now their political clout had forestalled any effective menhaden management. Scooping up thousands of metric tons of menhaden to be cooked and crushed into fish oil and livestock feed, the 125-year-old company’s take is primarily responsible for a 90 per cent population decline in recent decades.
This year, after ASMFC scientists finally declared menhaden overfished and that overfishing is continuing, a record 128,333 comments flooded the agency. The majority of these called for cutting the allowable catch in half. In Baltimore, Massachusetts fisheries director David Pierce set the meeting’s tone by declaring that “ecological objectives should be first and foremost.” The initial vote then shifted the management regime toward achieving maximum spawning potential; as things had stood, 65 per cent of the menhaden were being removed before they’d had even one chance to spawn.
Shortly before noon, as the board members took up the question of whether and how much to reduce landings, dozens of fishermen left their seats and stood to face them, holding aloft yellow signs listing their home state above the words “I support Menhaden Conservation!” They were quickly joined by Omega Protein men wearing union T-shirts, and the atmosphere was tense. The company has claimed that any curtailing of its catch would mean two of its eight remaining factory ships going into drydock, with accompanying loss of jobs. This is despite revenues of $78 million in Omega’s latest quarterly report, the highest in its history. “This is not about jobs, but about the fish!” someone in the crowd shouted. At one point, an ASMFC official threatened to clear the room.
While Virginia fishery officials tried at every turn to postpone action or keep it minimal, Massachusetts led the charge toward ecosystem-based management. David Pierce introduced a motion calling for a 25 per cent reduction in landings. Given uncertainty about the latest stock assessment, a compromise 20 per cent reduction was eventually voted in — which will give Omega Protein a quota of 170,800 metric tons. That, most conservationists agreed, doesn’t go far enough — but it’s considered a big step toward curtailing an industry that’s been unlimited for decades.
“It’s good,” said Patrick Paquette of the Massachusetts Striped Bass Association, “because given the high menhaden landings in 2012, it’s more like a 28 per cent reduction from that. A year ago, I thought we’d get maybe a 10 to 15 per cent reduction.” Bill Goldsborough of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation called what happened “a tremendous move in the right direction, though they had plenty of reasons to go further. These [Omega] guys have a standard m.o. of confuse-and-delay, while they keep hoping for a good year class. But guess what? They haven’t seen one for 20 years.” Ken Hinman of the National Coalition for Marine Conservation was also pleased with an outcome showing that “menhaden are not just a commodity, but have an ecosystem role.”
But Jim Price of the Chesapeake Bay Ecological Foundation pointed out that the measure fails to address the fact that striped bass historically feed on juvenile menhaden, which have made up 43 per cent of Omega’s catch over the past six years. If that trend continues, stripers will continue to feed heavily on blue crab and white perch in their Chesapeake spawning grounds, and show diminished amounts of body fat in the fall. “You won’t believe what bad shape the Chesapeake Bay is in. With the 2011 big year-class of striped bass, a lot of those fish are stunted in growth,” Mr. Price said.
H. Bruce Franklin, whose book The Most Important Fish in the Sea raised national awareness about the menhaden, said simply of Omega Protein: “This is an industry that should not be allowed to exist. There is no rational justification for it.”
The big day in Baltimore marked a start, but whether it will result in an improvement for the menhaden situation remains very much an open question. The next stock assessment won’t happen until 2014. Until then, the managers voted to let Omega Protein continue to grab 85 per cent of the allocated fish, while bait fisheries in all of the other states split the rest. “This is just wrong,” Wellfleet fisherman John Duane said afterward. “Because you’ve got somebody pillaging a resource for so long, they get rewarded for their huge recent landings?”
LEGITIMACY OF THE U.S. ELECTION SYSTEM
|My longtime friend Randy Foote, who teaches political science at Roxbury Community College in Boston, recently gave a talk at MIT titled "Legitimacy of the U.S. Election System." As you will see, this is more of a question than a declarative statement. Harkening back to the idealism he knew as a Harvard student in the late 1960s, moving through the questionable election of George W. Bush in both 2000 and 2004, on to the current election and the threat of another possible theft by the Republican-controlled electronic voting machines, Foote's talk offers food-for-thought. - Dick Russell|
Click here: LEGITIMACY OF THE U.S. ELECTION SYSTEM
THE RUSSELL ARCHIVES
I have begun boxing up and donating a vast collection of research materials that I've gathered over the years in writing hundreds of articles and ten books. My extensive collection related to the Kennedy assassination and recent American history is going to Baylor University, which already has amassed material from numerous researchers in the field. (See www.baylor.edu/lib/poage) Files related to my book on "Black Genius" will be going to Northeastern University in Boston. My papers related to striped bass and fisheries conservation, utilized for my book "Striper Wars," are available at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Sandy Hook, New Jersey. See the following link:
Click here: Finding aid for the Richard B. Russell striped bass and environmental journalism papers
NOT AN ACT OF GOD
My good friend Ross Gelbspan, author of two path-breaking books about climate change, has written a powerful piece about the impact of Hurricane Sandy and has given me permission to put it on my website. Go to www.heatisonline.org to keep up with Ross's up-to-the-minute postings on the climate crisis.
read: Not an act of God
November 1, 2012
BILLFISH CONSERVATION ACT
In the 1980s, along with some ocean activist friends, I made the rounds of a number of seafood restaurants in the Boston area. If we found any that served marlin on the menu – even if the fish came from a far-away place – we made a big stink. We demanded to see the manager and not-so-politely informed the restaurateur that marlin along the Eastern seaboard were endangered and that they should stop buying marlin from anywhere and take them off the menu immediately.
Generally, the restaurant manager was apologetic but defended himself by claiming that these were striped marlin from Hawaii – not white or blue marlin being taken from the Atlantic. We continued to insist, because after all, how could you really tell the difference? Besides, it was a matter of good conscience. Why create a taste for this beautiful billfish, where there hadn’t been one before?
Massachusetts did end up outlawing any sale of marlin caught in the Atlantic Ocean, and we considered that a big victory at the time. In 1989, sale of Atlantic-caught billfish was prohibited by the Federal government, and later so was any sale of striped marlin caught off the West Coast. But America remained the largest buyer in the world of foreign-caught billfish – importing a staggering 30,000 Pacific marlin and other billfish every year, along with black market fish taken from the Atlantic. These continued to be sold in mainland restaurants and seafood markets.
And populations of marlin continued to plummet. A global assessment made in 2011 by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature listed white, blue, and striped marlin as threatened species. The only way they could recover, said the IUCN, was to reduce fishing pressure.
The U.S. has finally taken a step to do just that. Remarkably, bipartisan support in both houses of Congress resulted in passage of the Billfish Conservation Act. President Obama signed the Act into law in October, effectively banning the importation of any and all billfish into the continental U.S.
Ken Hinman, whose National Coalition for Marine Conservation had organized a nationwide “Take Marlin off the Menu” campaign, called this “a tremendous victory for these highly migratory species. Marlin, sailfish, and spearfish do not know country boundaries and travel through three of the planet’s oceans. Giving them greater protection in the United States sets the stage for better protection worldwide.”
It took more than twenty years since my friends and I invaded the restaurant scene, but what we helped put in motion finally happened. In Hemingway’s classic, The Old Man and the Sea, the aging fisherman Santiago had said of the huge marlin that he’d battled: “Never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful, or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother.” Now, thanks to the action taken by our federal government, the noble marlin and its brethren may yet survive the greed of humankind.
Oct. 11, 2012 - The Kennedy Assassination: New Developments
Sep. 11, 2012 - The Madness of Drilling in the Chukchi Sea
Aug. 30, 2012 - Striped Bass: A Grim Update
Feb. 05, 2011 - Of Whales and Fish
Feb. 25, 2010 - Toward a New Policy for the Oceans
From a young climate activist colleague, Yoni Binstock:
"I've recently added a new feature to the Climate Scores website where I've graded the Presidential candidates on how they stand on climate change."
| On the day that I wrote the following "Commentary" op-ed for the Martha's Vineyard Gazette, extremely troubling news came from the Chesapeake Bay. The annual young-of-the-year index of juvenile striped bass, completed this fall, determined that spawning success of the fish in 2012 fell to the lowest level ever recorded in the 35-year history of the survey. Maryland officials blamed the poor results on weather, a warm winter and dry spring. Nothing was said about a declining striper population due to lack of enough nutritional food, specifically menhaden. Why not?
October 18, 2012
Menhaden Harvest as Fish Oil Jeopardizes Ocean Food Chain
by Dick Russell
For centuries, probably millennia, the small, oily fish known as Atlantic menhaden have been the protein-filled food of choice for striped bass and many other large species in our waters. Fishermen call them pogeys or bunker, often using them as bait to entice stripers to their lines. Menhaden were once so abundant that early Americans spoke of them swimming in schools upwards of 25 miles long. Today, more menhaden are pulled from the sea — between a quarter and half a billion pounds a year — than any other fish in the continental U.S., primarily to be ground up into fish meal for aquaculture and fish oil for vitamin supplements. Eighty per cent of those menhaden are netted by a single Virginia-based company, Omega Protein, the last of the “reduction industry” fleet. And the toll has been huge. Since 1983, the fish’s numbers have declined by a staggering 88 per cent.
Which means that the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, where menhaden play a crucial role as a filter feeder on algae, is suffering. And that increasing numbers of emaciated and bacterially-diseased striped bass are going hungry. And that bait fishermen, who provide menhaden for lobster pots and anglers, are hurting economically.
That’s the message being sounded at a series of public hearings currently being held in states across the Eastern seaboard, leading toward a Dec. 14 meeting of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) where stronger regulations on the allowable catch of menhaden are finally being considered. On Tuesday night in Bourne, some 30 residents came to voice their concerns and listen to Massachusetts fisheries officials describe “a sense of urgency.” This was somewhat heartening, considering that the ASMFC has long resisted taking any action that would affect Omega Protein’s bottom line...
complete article here
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Mexico Cancels Controversial Baja Resort Project
- This announcement by Mexico's President Calderon represents a huge victory for environmental activists fighting to stop a mega-resort development proposed for one of the most productive coral reefs left in the world. My friends and I, who have a residence not far away on Baja's Sea of Cortez, were very involved in the battle against a Spanish development outfit, Hansa Urbana. So were Mexico's great poet and environmental leader, Homero Aridjis, along with the NRDC and Wildcoast organizations as well as local groups from Cabo Pulmo. This is the most important grassroots achievement in Mexico since President Zedillo cancelled the proposed saltworks at the gray whales' pristine birthing habitat in Laguna San Ignacio in 2000, a story recounted in my book "Eye of the Whale." - Dick Russell
Click here: Mexico Cancels Controversial Baja Resort Project - ABC News
New From Homero Aridjis
"The Sun, the Moon, and Walmart"
My friend, the Mexican poet/environmentalist Homero Aridjis, has just released through his Group of 100 organization a petition signed by more than 150 writers and artists from 30 countries, asking Mexican President Felipe Calderon to cancel gold and silver mining concessions granted to Canadian companies in Wirikuta, the sacred territory of the Huichol people. The survival of Huichol culture is at stake. - Dick Russell
petitions: Writers Intellectuals
Dick Russell has been added to the roster of clients of the AEI Speakers Bureau. For anyone interested in booking a speaking engagement to hear Dick on any of several topics, here's a link to their website: www.aeispeakers.com
TESTIMONY OF DICK RUSSELL
Author, Striper Wars
H796, An Act relative to the conservation of Atlantic striped bass
Massachusetts Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture
January 14, 2010
I thank you for allowing me to testify today on what I believe is an urgent conservation measure, vital to preserving for our children and grand-children the most magnificent fish that swims our near-shore waters. I am an environmental journalist and the author of six books, including one called Striper Wars, about the fish that is the subject of this hearing. And today I hope to offer some historical perspective, along with the reasons why H796 needs to be passed during the current legislative session.
Striped bass have been called the aquatic equivalent of the American bald eagle. Without Native Americans having taught the Pilgrims about how to take striped bass, they would not have survived their first difficult winters in the Plymouth Colony. Protection of striped bass was the reason for America’s very first conservation law, in 1639, when the Massachusetts Bay Colony general court ruled they were too valuable to be ground up and used for fertilizer. The first fishery management measures, in 1776, were also drawn up on the striper’s behalf...
complete article here
Published June 23rd, 2005...
Dick Russell's latest book:
An American Fish Story
The remarkable story of how one species was brought back from the brink of extinction only to face new and even more daunting threats...
When populations of striped bass began plummeting in the early 1980s, author and fisherman Dick Russell was there to lead an Atlantic coast conservation campaign that resulted in one of the most remarkable wildlife comebacks in the history of fisheries. As any avid fisherman will tell you, the striped bass has long been a favorite at the American dinner table; in fact, we've been feasting on the fish from the time of the Pilgrims. By 1980 that feasting had turned to overfishing by commercial fishing interests. Striper Wars is Dick Russell's inspiring account of the people and events responsible for the successful preservation of one of America's favorite fish and of what has happened since...
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hardcover: 288 pages / Island Press Shearwater Books (June 23, 2005)
Now in Paperback!
Eye of the Whale
"Once in a while, a book comes along that redefines its subject to the extent that most previous works immediately become obsolete. Eye of the Whale is such a book...it will change the way you think about the natural world."
RICHARD ELLIS, LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK REVIEW
Named a Best Book of the Year by three major newspapers upon its initial publication, and now available for the first time in paperback, Eye of the Whale offers an exhilarating blend of adventure and natural history as Dick Russell follows the migration of the gray whale from Mexico's Baja peninsula to the Arctic's Bering Strait.
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Paperback: 688 pages / Island Press Shearwater Books (September 20, 2004)
In this collection of essays and interviews journalist Dick Russell examines the role of African Americans through two centuries of American history. He focuses primarily on the role of blacks in the cultural life of the United States. Russell writes about notable figures such as educator Mary McLeod Bethune, speaks with Harvard professor Cornel West about W. E. B. Du Bois, and discusses Frederick Douglass and James Baldwin in an essay titled "Timeless Voices, Parallel Realities." Black Genius and the American Experience, with an introduction by Alvin F. Poussaint, takes a thoughtful and fascinating look at the contributions to U.S. history made by Americans of African descent.
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Paperback: 497 pages / Carroll & Graf Publishers (February 1, 1999)