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Longlines: Trap lines of the Ocean

magine a 40-mile trap line strung out across the landscape like the telephone wires and power lines that crisscross the forests and deserts of your country.  Every 250 feet or so, imagine a baited trap sitting ready to snare any animal that attempted to take a bite of what appears to be an easy meal.  Imagine if companies set out trap lines and caught grizzly bears, wolves, lynx, moose, badgers, cougars, wolverines, and other wildlife in the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, or the Cascades.

This is what longline fishing would look like on land.

Imagine the response!  People would go ballistic!

I thought of this “metaphor” the past week when I was lucky enough to attend Patagonia’s “Grassroots Tools” conference in South Lake Tahoe, CA.  While in Tahoe, I was struck by the beauty of the Sierra Nevada Mtns.  I felt immediately connected to the snowfield-dotted peaks and the streams swollen with springtime runoff.  Anyone would be hard pressed not to feel the power of that place and the urge to protect it from the threats of a clearcut, or a strip-mine, or a golf course.

It also got me thinking about one of the challenges facing Ocean advocates: the ocean is often a much more difficult place to visit.  For many people who don’t have the opportunity to get out onto the water, or go to the coast, it can be a bit of an abstract relationship.  I cannot tell you how many times people have expressed shock and sheer delight at how beautiful sea turtles, whales, and some of the other marine wildlife actually are in real life.  It is hard to imagine!  (Thank goodness for snorkeling…)

Think about longlines as trap lines of the ocean next time you or someone you know considers eating some swordfish.  It may make you or them think twice.