the irresistible fleet of bicycles

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What is it about the ruthless sea? An acculturation in agricultural landscapes, full of flower buds, dewdrops, fresh hay, kittens and baby lambs cannot prepare you for the hard, chilling mechanics of a mechanized fish harvest. To my tender agrarian eyes, the fishing business is brutal. We may call them “stewards of the ocean” but lets face it—they are killing fish.

-Severine on the Alaskan fishing commons in “A Farm Organizer Visits Fish Country: Part II,” for In These Times. Read the rest of the article here!

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why agrarians should care about fishing


“For many terrestrials, and certainly for me, the ocean and fisheries are a foreign place. We cannot see into the sea and don’t know much at all about what goes on there, except perhaps familiarity with the blanket-term “over-fishing.” Young agrarians of the rangeland know well that a blanket critique—that the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service’s policies lead to “over-grazing,” for example—is not enough. Indeed after decades of handing over mining, drilling, grazing and mineral rights on public lands, there’s a flank of the environmental movement calling for privatization of over 400 million acres of public lands. Another flank, the Rainforest Action Network, is calling for a moratorium on the sale of mineral rights on public lands.

We need to look more closely. We need to survey what we already know. And we need to build from there.

Some of us have followed the campaigns against factory fish—the Costco victory against GMO salmonGMO soy oilbeing sold as pelletized fish food and the pollution caused by fish farms. And we have heard hype about aquaculture projects and been confounded by this glamorization of international fish farm development projects. We use kelp supplements for our dairy animals and soil mix, but don’t know much about the controversy behind them. For the most part, we aren’t much connected as producers with fisher people whose fish-meal we farmers buy. (I hope this article may woo a few young farmers to study across the boundary of the seashore and help us discover our common causes.)

So, what’s the difference between a well managed and a poorly managed commons?”

-Severine on the ocean commons, in “A Farm Organizer Visits Fish Country: Part I” for In These Times. Read the whole article here!

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severine and the last american food commons, part I



This past Fall, Severine travelled to beautiful Alaska and wrote three comprehensive articles based on her experience for In These Times. From Halibut festivals to fish processing boats to the rugged Alaskan homesteaders, she explores three questions fundamental to her journey:

  • What can the farming community learn from the highly managed, and highly abundant commons of Alaska? Are these lessons applicable to land?
  • What do young agrarians have to learn from the governance and politics of a wild fishery?
  • What does a wild fishery have to learn from the cultural activities of agrarian organizers?

Convinced? You can read the three articles, Part I, Part II, and Part III on In These Times.

But maybe you’re still not sure why young farmers should care about the ocean? We’ll be posting a few short excerpts on the blog throughout day, and we suspect they might just change your mind.


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who owns the fish?

Any commercial fisherman used to be able to fish in U.S. seas. Not anymore. Today, the right to fish belongs to a number of private individuals who have traded, bought and sold these rights in unregulated markets. This system, called “catch shares,” favors large fishing fleets and has cut out thousands of smaller-scale fishermen. How did this happen? Learn more in this short animation from the Center for Investigative Reporting.

For more information on this story visit CIR online:…

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want to add fish to your csa offering?


Here’s the place where you can find your local fisher people who would be happy to partner with you in bringing local fish to your local community. With provided maps, vendor locators, resource guides, how-to’s and newsletters can help you become a role-player in the sustainable fishery movement!

Stay informed about our waters and click here!

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capitalism and the commodification of salmon

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by Stefano B. Longo, Rebecca Clausen and Brett Clark
On February 25, 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) closed the public comment period for the environmental assessment of the AquAdvantage Salmon. Their review of the first genetically modified animal for human consumption concluded with a “finding of no significant impact.”1 Numerous fishermen, consumer safety advocates, public health officials, ecologists, and risk assessment experts submitted comments that directly challenged this finding. Despite the opposition, it is very likely that the FDA’s approval of this genetically engineered salmon and precedent-setting regulatory process is imminent.
AquAdvantage Salmon is a patented fish created and owned by a leading aquaculture technology corporation. The species has been genetically altered so that the fundamental traits and characteristics of an Atlantic salmon are now blended with the ocean pout, an eel-like species, and the Chinook, a salmon native to the Pacific Ocean. The result is a genetically modified salmon that grows at twice the rate of an Atlantic salmon, enabling it to reach a harvestable size in eighteen months instead of three years.Time magazine heralded it as one of “the best inventions of 2010.”2
The aquaculture industry and corporate investors are championing this recent development in food biotechnology. They propose that this “invention” will yield ecological benefits, such as preserving wild salmon, while enhancing efficiency. The biotechnology sector is excited, as the unprecedented approval of genetically modified animal species for human consumption opens the door for the food industry into this realm of production. While genetically engineered plants have been readily produced and consumed in the United States, animals represent the next great market leap.
The story of genetically modified salmon is bound to the commodification of food, the intensification of seafood production, the overexploitation of fish stocks, and so-called technological solutions to address environmental problems. Unfortunately, the discussion of fisheries and oceans is constrained by ideological justifications that prevent a comprehensive assessment. For example, the depletion of fisheries is often referred to as a tragedy of the commons, where too many selfish fishers are chasing too few fish. Private property and technology are generally presented as solutions that will save fisheries and feed the world’s growing population. This argument has been used to justify subsequent conservation and management policies in fisheries. We contend that it is an inadequate explanation for the decline in fish populations and that its solutions are misdirected and problematic. As a counter, we propose that the tragedy of the commodity serves as a more appropriate explanation for the sweeping changes in oceans, fisheries, and recent efforts to introduce genetically modified salmon. This alternative approach presents how the logic of capital has shaped production and commodification processes. It also highlights how the most recent case of biotechnology in relation to salmon serves the needs of capital by increasing control of biological and ecological systems in order to better conform to economic dictates. The genetic modification of salmon is part of a biological speedup, whereby natural processes are transformed to achieve faster rates of return in the food marketplace.
Click HERE to continue reading the article