The U. S. Commission on Ocean Policy recently released its Preliminary Report, and in a moment of inexcusable oversight, failed to adequately address one of the most significant issues facing ocean fisheries today, bycatch.

Although the commission recognizes that protecting our oceans is vital to sustain life on earth, the summary on bycatch does not reflect its commitment to this cause. The excerpt on "Reducing Bycatch," thrown in just for kicks, is a mere half page of the 413 page report.

After stating that bycatch is "a major economic and ecological problem," the commission goes on to say:

"Nevertheless, the total elimination of bycatch from a fishery is probably impossible, and too great a focus on bycatch could inhibit progress on other issues more important to ecosystem functioning."

Hmm. Considering the serious impact of 44 billion pounds of wasted fish each year, the logic behind this inference is unclear. The report also fails to give any new, concrete proposals to reduce dirtyfishing, and instead recommends more plans and studies. All talk and no action? Sadly, the extent of the bycatch section eliminates "talk" as well.

The Commission appears to believe you can't lose if you don't try, but unfortunately, fishermen, threatened marine life, and oceanic ecosystems all stand to lose if the Commission refuses to take action and give bycatch the attention it deserves.

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