By Nils Stolpe, FishnetUSA
When I was invited to be a participant in a panel discussion on fisheries at the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) annual meeting in Miami Beach in October, I had serious misgivings. Those misgivings mostly focused on what the likely reception of a representative of commercial fishing and fishermen would be by a roomful of granola munching, Birkenstock wearing, tie-died zealots who either never got their heads out of the 60s or were frustrated because they missed them completely.
Up front I have to admit how off-target I was.
There was very little tie-die in evidence.
Still operating under the naive belief that the people who arranged conferences for professions like journalism were as much committed to objectivity as I used to assume scientists were, I certainly wasn't concerned about being a participant in a hatchet job, particularly with being on the wrong side of the hatchet.
I thought "the organizers are professional journalists and therefore committed to balance," so I accepted.
So what had I bought into? As an augury, I had been listed in the program posted on the SEJ website as a commercial fisherman. I was asked to provide a short biography, which I did. Needless to say, I did not claim in it that I was or had ever been a commercial fishermen, primarily because I'm not and have never been one. The biog was linked to my name on the website, but apparently no one responsible for organizing the SEJ conference or the session in it that I was to participate in thought it was particularly important to check on the accuracy or the consistency of their information. So I remained a commercial fisherman on the program page and what I really was on the page linked to it.