Billion Dollar Fish is full of colorful characters. In a post of at least 250 words, tell the class who your favorite character is from your reading of Billion Dollar Fish and why? What makes them your favorite and be sure to tell us how they fit into the story of Alaska Pollock. Share with us by 11:59 PM on November 8. By 11:59 by on November 9, please comment on at least two posts by your peers.
48 thoughts on “FTT Due November 8”
My favorite ‘character’ from “Billion Dollar Fish” is Lankester solely due to his statement: “It is a mistake to assume that the whole ocean is practically one vast store-house, and that the place of a fish removed on a particular fishing ground is immediately taken by some of the grand total of fish, which are so numerous in comparison with man’s depredations as to make his operations in this respect insignificant.” Despite the lack of gender-neutral language, Lankester has it on the nose. Fish are limited and are not replaced/regenerated fast enough to compensate for the rate at which fish are removed. Knowing this is the foundation for understanding that much consideration must be put into how fish are removed, which fish are removed, where fish are removed from, who is in charge of the fish and removal, and the social, political, cultural, and environmental implications of fish. Removing parents from the population will reduce the production of offspring. We see it in many fisheries; large, fecund females are removed from a population consistently, and the population begins to collapse in large quantities. Huxley was correct in asserting that certain marine species have life-history characteristics that increase their vulnerability to overexploitation and the subsequent effects. However, all aquatic species can be overexploited under appropriate conditions. You know what. I also appreciate that Lankester went from having a warm presence to being “cantankerous” in old age. I believe that old people have the right to be grumpy and crude as long as they don’t actively hurt themselves or others. I say, let them be cantankerous.
Lankester’s quote that you mentioned really is spot on, minus, as you mentioned, the lack of gender-neutral language. Fish are indeed not an unlimited resource, this needs to be thought of more, and as a whole, we need to respect them. Your point on older folks being “cantankerous” is completely fair, they’ve experienced life as it is, they have seen and experienced who knows what, frankly they have the right to be cranky.
I agree that there most definitely is a limit on fish and how much we can pull to achieve maximum yield while also conserving the species and the fishery. There’s so many departments and groups who make these huge decisions of how much of a species we can take, what age and size, and where and when we can take them. It can be mind boggling and very strict but we do all this in order to conserve the fisheries and yet we still mess it up occasionally.
I find Johan Hjort to be one of the more interesting people that are introduced by Bailey. The Norwegian fisheries scientist is described as being pretty fundamental to the modern understanding of fishery science, as well as being a very passionate advocate of the economic fisheries. His ideas that recruitment and the conditions that influence the survival of young fish affect overall stock abundance is still pretty much a core idea when fish exploitation is being studied. ICES held a retrospective look at Hjort’s contribution to fisheries science and argued that his fundamental ideas about recruitment in fish populations are still the basis for a lot of modern analysis, even if they have been refined over time with new data and models. I did some additional quick research on Hjort and found that he also was an early advocate of using things like otoliths and scales as ways of measuring age in the fish that were being caught. A lot of these concepts and ideas we’ve discussed in class, and it seems that a lot of their scientific origin can be traced back to Hjort in some way. It’s apparent that he is a titan in modern Western fisheries science and is a really interesting individual. He was also constantly out to sea, directly in the middle of the actual practices of the fisheries he was studying (he also had an important role in showing the value of commercial shrimp fishing), which I greatly respect.
I, too, appreciate Johan Hjort’s ideas, such as recruitment and conditions influencing the survival of young fish affecting overall stock abundance and using otoliths and scales to measure age in fish caught. How do you see his ideas being used in fisheries present day? Were there any of his ideas that you disagreed with?
I like that you ended with the importance of fieldwork and being directly immersed in the subject you are studying. Fieldwork is equally essential as lab work – how can you understand something if you are not a consistent, active observer and participant?
It was interesting to learn more about Johan Hjort in your post. It is extremely impressive that this man has had such an impact on fisheries and the science surrounding them. It is crazy to think about how many concepts we have talked about in class that he had an impact upon.
If I had to choose a favorite character from this book so far, it would have to be Michael Graham. If there was one of his quotes from the book that I thought was the most interesting it would have to be “The trail of fishery science is strewn with opinions of those who, while being partially right, were wholly wrong” (63). I thought this was a good quote because there were many other people in the book who thought that any surplus population not caught was just potential human food that was wasted, which is partially right because much of our population is hungry, but completely wrong because it is still potentially living to help the population grow and then getting eaten by other animals, so therefore it isn’t being wasted. Unharvested fish are not “lost forever,” like someone else in the book said, if they remain uncaught they help the ecosystem. I do agree, to an extent, that if the fish has been caught and will not live if released, like the rockfish we catch as bycatch, it could be considered wasted since it isn’t going to survive (which is why we’re required to keep all rockfish that we catch), although it is still going to get eaten by something else in the ocean. The quote also applies to the pollock fishery, in my opinion, because the population collapses were due to bad management decisions by people who were partially right in the sense that they allowed people to keep their jobs as long as possible, but were very wrong because they allowed the populations to collapse.
One of the other reasons that Graham was my favorite character in the book was that it said he rode a horse to work every day while wearing a bowler hat with port and starboard lights on it, which I thought was highly respectable.
Interesting quote! That is one way we often overlook bad management-we focus on what is partially right and do not consider the effects as a whole. Nor do we get an all-encompassing view of science if we focus on just the opinions of a small few in charge. “Unharvested fish are not lost forever…” YES! I appreciate your connection of the aforementioned concept to the pollock fishery.
I agree, a bowler hat on a horse with starboard lights is of utmost respectability.
I also chose Michael Graham as my favorite character. He definitely has some interesting thoughts on fisheries and the science behind them. His thoughts on recovering fish stocks and unharvested fish are intriguing. He does make some good points and some ones that may be a bit questionable.
I also highly respect his transportation as well as his hat choices.
Which of his opinions would you consider to be “questionable?” I thought most, if not all, of the ones mentioned so far in the book were fairly accurate.
This quote really hit hard with me and don’t think you could have chosen a better one Rio! I feel like this can be a big problem in the fisheries world as one persons opinion on a matter can have drastic outcomes to a fishery. The Newfoundland Cod fishery could be used as an example of this as the government made a bad choice which led to the closure and collapse of that fishery. I also appreciate the remark with rockfish as this is something that happens quite often and that fish could feed an eagle or a lingcod or small ocean crustaceans.
What about the character most relates to you?
Out of all the characters we have met in Bailey’s Billion Dollar Fish, I would have to say that my favorite character is Michael Graham. There are aspects of Michael Graham’s personality that speak to me, specifically the fact that he rode his horse every day to work and wears a bowler hat with a red light on the port side and a green light on the starboard side attached to it. Besides his chosen transportation and hat fashion, Michael Graham was an influential English scientist, wrote The Fish Gate, and was the director of England’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries’s Lowestoft Fisheries Laboratory and had an interesting perspective on fishery science. He believed that overfished populations could recover, “North Sea fish stocks increased after a lapse in fishing during World War I, and therefore harvesting had an effect on fish populations. Furthermore, they could recover. The findings… seemed to tip the balance of the Huxley-Lankester debate toward the latter” (p.30). This can be applied to the story of the Alaska Pollock as they were deemed overfished and the fishery to be collapsed, but the fishery is still running due to some populations not being overfished.
Another thing that Michael Graham that stood out to me was “that ‘fisheries that are unlimited become unprofitable’” (p.43). He realized this when a fisherman has the desire to expand or expand his territory. He believed that setting limits to a fishery would restore its profit. I believe this is a good idea because having a manageable fishery, or fishing territory, reduces the opportunities for failure; or more in his mindset, reduces the chance of using more money than is coming in and becoming unprofitable. This too can be applied to Alaska Polluck because if the fishery was limited, and managed better, the fishery may not have collapsed.
I would love to ride a horse to work/school. I think his ideas are definitely valid, interesting, and provide good food for thought. I guess I sort of disagree that fish that have been overfished can recover, well more of fish that have been overfished to extinction. I don’t think I’ve heard of a fish that has been fished to extinction so maybe he has a point. We’ve hunted many ice age creatures to extinction but rarely sense then. I’m stumped by his thought process, maybe he is right? Ahhhh!
While I didn’t choose Micheal Graham, I do agree that he is an interesting character in the book. I especially like the point that he made, and that you mentioned in your post, about fisheries that are unlimited are unprofitable. This is such an interesting way to think, as I am sure many people with out a second thought would say that they would love for a fishery to be unlimited.
There’s already been so many characters brought into this story. While all of the characters are great in their own manners and it was quite hard just picking one character. However there was one character that stuck out to me from the rest. This character was given the nickname the Dokkabei. The Dokkabei originates from a Korean folk story. The Dokkabei is portrayed as a red devil or demon. These devils are fond of mischief and practical jokes. This is where our Dokkabei enters the story and his name is Dave Stanchfield. He was something of a legend in the Pollock Fishery. He was a crab fisherman who turned to the pollock boom after the decline in the crab fishery. He was a ground fisherman for the US Fishery Conservation Zone and would deliver pollock to the foreign processing ships. His job was to catch the pollock, negotiate a price for his catch, and deliver it to the buyer at a factory ship. Well one day a Korean processing ship decided to under pay Captain Stanchfield because they believed they didn’t get the weight they were told they would be receiving. This threw Captain Stanchfield into a fiery rage. “He was a large burly man with a flaming red beard and a volcanic voice,” (page 59). He decided to take matters into his own hands and put on a bright red survival suit and jumped overboard and grabbed ahold of the net and rode it aboard the Korean ship where he gave them a piece of his mind. Like who jumps off a ship into the Bering Sea of all places. This was truly mind blowing and really stuck with me that someone took such big risks all for some fish. That’s why I have to say Dave Stanchfield is my favorite character in the book so far.
Captain Stanchfield was a crazy fella. He’s up there in the top five of my favorite characters so far. I would argue part of his craziness comes from his beard. I have to ask myself if I’d ever care about anything enough to jump into the roaring ocean and I think there are like three things I’d do it for but being underpaid is not one of them. How about you?
I must not have gotten to this part of the book yet, but that’s impressive. I’ve tried swimming in a survival suit before, it’s not easy.
The first story shared in Chapter 4 of Billion Dollar Fish stood out to me. This is mostly because it seems like a classic Alaskan story of someone taking extreme measures to prove a point. While it was clearly on the dangerous side, I can definitely appreciate the commitment. I’ve noticed a lot of Alaskans that are very outwardly bold and clear about their beliefs, and this one definitely fits the Alaskan way. The story was of Dave Stanchfield. Stanchdield was originally a crab fisherman, but he ended up becoming a pollock fisherman when the crab stocks crashed. He thought that he was being ripped off by the Koreans, who are processing pollock that were delivered by people like Stanchfield. To send a message, Stanchfield put on a survival suit and jumped onto a pollock trawl net and rode it through the Bering Sea until he arrived on the Korean ship that was pulling the net in. He almost died several times in several different ways, but he survived the venture and confronted the Koreans.
This story has a pretty clear relationship to Alaskan pollock because it involves pollock themselves. But I think it has a lot to say about how so many people had no choice but to get on board with the pollock fishery because it was so lucrative while other fisheries were having less and less availability. As a result, we are seeing threats to the population of this fish in similar ways that we have seen with other fish that have had major booms.
I feel like Alaska has a lot of iconic characters especially in fishing. I had forgotten that Stanchfield had been a part of this transition of fisheries from crab to pollock. There are some interesting parallels between the beginning of his career in crabs and the collapse of that fishery and the possibility of a future collapse of the pollock fishery.
So far I really enjoyed Hugo Grotius’s part in the book (Chapter 2). He had an interesting history which I loved reading about. He was wicked smart and got his PhD at 16, broke out of jail, lived in Paris, then lived in Sweden, where he died from a shipwreck (well getting sick from the wreck). I always enjoy reading about people in history who formulate ideas that were so out of touch in their time because it was so evolutionary; but in the present, it’s a founding principle. Like Darwin’s ideas of natural selection or Grotius’s ideals of the free sea. Grotius’s book claimed that everyone had equal rights to the sea and that no one could claim the sea as their own. He said that “the sea is free flowing, it is more like the air than the land. No one owns it since it cannot be enclosed. . . common property for the use of all” (26). This has still to this day been an interesting and controversial topic. Especially when it comes to Pollock. Pollock are sought out by many nations and there have been countless arguments over who can control and fish them. Until the Law of the Sea which limited multinational pressures from Alaskan waters. One interesting part from the book was that I discovered prior to the 200 mile offshore rule there was a 3 mile offshore rule, but only 3 miles because that’s how far the cannons could reach. Technology has allowed for the expansion of 3 miles to 200 miles off the coast.
The history of sea navigation and the rules surrounding “ownership” are super fascinating. I wasn’t sure if you knew this, but the USA has never officially adopted the UN Law of the Sea, even though we largely follow it in practice. Like you said, there’s a ton of complication and complexity to navigating who does (or can) own stretches of water, and how other nations are allowed to use it in turn.
I also thought that Hugos upbringing was interesting and how much he accomplished in his lifetime. I like the idea of the sea being free but I think its good that there are regulations and rules in place to prevent the downfall of some stocks.
This summary is very quotable. “…ideas that were so out of touch in their time because it was so evolutionary; but in the present, it’s a founding principle.” Hugo was an oceanic cowboy.
A character I found to be interesting thus far in Bailey’s story of Alaskan pollock is Barry Fisher, a fisherman working in conjunction with Dr. Wally Pereyra in the joint venture fishery. Although his initial joint venture involvement was for hake, he eventually joined the pollock fishery. I found his perspective on fishermen as hunters and managers prioritizing security to be reflective. Bailey writes that he would take Fisher’s sentiments even a bit further and said that “acceptance of risk and boldness in a fisherman are replaced by uncertainty and caution in a manager. A manager who exudes unrealistic confidence about his numbers is probably one to be wary of”.
I also appreciated Bailey mentioning C. G. Petersen, the Danish scientist among a group of European researchers who introduced multiple methods we currently utilize in fisheries science today. Bailey writes that C. G. Petersen had developed fish tagging methods in order to study their movement and migrations, as well as using fish scales to age fish. These stuck out to me because both developments are methods that are currently used, and I have experienced in my current job. Tagging sablefish annually takes place in order to conduct a mark-recapture study, in which population abundance can be estimated. I often take biological samples from commercially caught sablefish and rockfish, of which the otoliths are obtained and then sent to Juneau where they have a lab specifically for ageing fish with the collected otoliths. Although scales are not taken from these groundfish, I have gone along to witness the salmon samplers take scale samples from salmon which they then age. It is interesting to read about the creators of methods that are still used today.
Maureen, I also enjoyed reading about C. G. Petersen. It’s always fascinating to hear about how inventions and practices like tagging actually started. That’s also really cool that you take samples and otoliths! It sounds like a fascinating process.
If you were in your character’s shoes and had their life experence what would you do as them?
I agree, it is quite interesting about the aging of fishes and the people who designed such methods!
This might be a bit quirky, but I have a really good impression of Wally Pereyra. He reminds me of members of my mother’s family (back in New England), and particularly of my grandfather, who had a similar childhood working around economic restraints, being a fledgling of the Great Depression. Our family on my mum’s side mostly consists of Yankees who didn’t have a lot of money. The idea of a little boy running around the American backcountry running a “herbal tea enterprise” to support his family and being a junior entrepreneur makes me happy. My grandpa fixed radios when he could, and he taught himself how to wire houses.
Wally helped break the American fishing economy onto the international stage: he helped usher an era of globalization with the cooperative selling and packaging of fishing across the developed world. He saw opportunity with how fishing product was being transported, and This includes the implementing of a “joint venture” program between the United States and Soviet Union, despite it being the Cold War era. This eventually expanded to an operation involving Japanese, African, Eastern European and Korean fish markets. Wally’s one of those who branched out from fishing science into management, so he’s got duel experience. He’s also credited with being one of the people who helped protect Alaska’s coastlines from excessive trawling damage, when fishing became more industrial – and for this we owe him much. I gave him a Google and found his Twitter. It looks like he was touring restored salmon habitat in 2021, and seemed quite cheery about it.
Amanda, I also found Wally Pereyra to be a very intriguing individual. I enjoyed reading about how his recognition of opportunity and his resourcefulness reminded you of members of your family in relatable situations. I appreciated that Pereyra brought perhaps a different set of skills and knowledge, coming from a science background rather than a fishing background. There’s certainly something to be said for well roundedness and combining experiences from various fields.
Very interesting post! I like how you finished off your post with ‘giving him a Google’, made me laugh a bit.
So far, the character most interesting to me has been Kjell Inge Rokke, the Norwegian fisher turned billionaire who was introduced at the beginning of the book, as I feel his story is very indicative of one of the book’s themes: high-risk situations are fairly common in fisheries, and how these high-risk situations play out tend have significant impacts within their given contexts. Kjell entered the fishing industry as a high-school dropout and deckhand working in the Bering Sea and would eventually come to control over 40% of the pollock harvest through his company American Seafoods. His forays into both fishing and business would go so far as to land him a spot on the Forbes list of the wealthiest people in the world, only over the span of around 20 years. This progression, like that of any businessman, was fraught with risks. The book brings up one particular story going back to Kjell’s early career, in which a trawler he was working on would suffer from a torn net in the middle of a rather large catch. In response to this, fellow crew member John Sjong would jump into the frigid water and successfully mend this tear (literally insane). This instance was an extreme example of how a risk that could have resulted in disaster also had the potential to greatly benefit the risk taker. The fishing industry is certainly no stranger to these circumstances, as positions within fisheries management have before risked the livelihoods of their employees and the environments they inhabit for some form of significant returns. My mind most quickly goes back to the Newfoundland Cod collapse, as it was a failed risk taken by the minister of fishing (where the TAC was raised to an absurd degree in the hopes of continuing to maintain the performance of the fishery) that directly contributed to the fishery’s demise. Although these risks can be minimized while still enjoying net positive results, it should be remembered that it is impossible for everything to be accounted for, and whatever ends up being left to chance can often be the crux of any given scenario.
Lucy, I like your point about how Rokke’s story is indicative of the book’s theme. It’s interesting to think about how risky fisheries actually are. It makes me think about how delicate balances in nature really are!
There were many characters talked about in the beginning of the book and it was hard to pick one favorite. One of the characters from this chapter that stood out to me the most was Michael Graham. I liked how they described him as an “eccentric character” because he would ride his horse to and from work with a bowler hat. You often don’t often picture that when you think of the director of England’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. I also liked how he recommended regulations on fisheries after the stock recovered, but unfortunately the “science was overruled” and it was over harvested again. Graham also said “T.H. Huxleys advice in fisheries, has, nevertheless, to be judged critically, and the verdict is that, although he was 100% right in 1866, by 1883 he failed to take account of a new development.” The development was the modern and steam trawling machines, which revolutionized fisheries. They changed how fishing was done, allowing people to take as much as they were able to. Not just of pollock but other species as well. They allowed people to fish further offshore, for a longer period of time, and reach deeper depths. But trawlers also became controversial later on due to habitat damage and the decline of fish stocks. This also applies to the Alaskan pollock fishery because some of the stocks were mismanaged and collapsed.
I thought that the quote you mentioned from Graham was interesting and brings up an important aspect of how fisheries need to be managed. As technologies, societies, and economies change, the policies that govern how these industries are managed needs to change with them, else they run the risk of degradation and collapse.
I think of powerful figures in modern society like politicians and movie stars but it’s pretty had to be that powerful if everyone thinks you’re kind of odd, like Michael Graham. Even though being unabashedly yourself is a bit harder in this modern day and age, I think that the fisheries community is accepting to people that hold their individuality because they are more concerned about fish than thinking about how they are perceived. Even if society didn’t listen to Graham’s warnings, he was still right.
The characters that kind of stick out to me in “Billion Dollar Fish” are the characters that fit the archetype of the kind of mischievous, little bit crazy, and big time joker fishing bro. There were several men that Bailey described as jumping out into the ocean onto the giant bag of fish for different reasons. This archetype is described through the story and attributes of Dokkabei, a devilish Korean spirit. Bailey is quick to name an Alaskan fisherman Dave Stanchfield after this description, but the description of Dokkabei’s personality also reminded me of Kjell Inge Rokke, a fisherman from Norway.
Rokke was bold enough to jump on a ripped net full of pollock in the middle of the ocean and sew it closed while balancing on the full net to save the catch! Stanchfield jumped into the Bering Sea to hang onto a net full of pollock while it was being transferred back to the mothership just because he could. I think one of the main themes of industrialized fishing is the attitude of conquest towards the ocean and vibrant populations of fish (/we were talking about hubris today in class being a contributing factor to modern fisheries which I think goes with this). I do like these bold characters because they also are usually the ones instigating in any type of environment like being on a ship/ making management decisions/ instigating change.
I think Bailey does a pretty good job at painting the Alaska offshore fisheries as this kind of wild west anything goes world. I always thought that spending a lot of time out at sea in any capacity can change people, but a lot of these guys in the book are like larger-than-life personalities.
Lillian, I was also reminded of each of these characters when reading about the other. They are both very memorable in their wild and risky actions! I think you bring up an interesting observation that these big, bold personality characters typically make a large impact on certain industries.
It is cool that Rokke was able to jump on a ripped net and sew it closed! That would be so difficult to do.
I can’t decide on a favorite character but the one that stands out to me is Thomas Huxley.
Thomas Huxley’s path to the fisheries part is incredible. “Huxley had little formal schooling and was self taught. He left school at age ten due to family circumstances. The young man apprenticed from the age of thirteen to medical doctors.” (28) He then was an apprentice and then became an assistant surgeon on the HMS Rattlesnake, This quote from Huxley is really interesting “I believe that it may be affirmed with confidence that, in relation to our present modes of fishing, a number of the most important sea fisheries, such as the cod fishery, herring fishery, mackarel fishery are all inexhaustible. (28) It is great that these fisheries are inexhaustible, but it also interesting how he called it “useless” to try and regulate these fisheries. I am not sure how these types of fisheries are nowadays but I feel like there are some type of regulations toward these fisheries.
I like how Huxley went from apprenticing for medical doctors, assistant surgeon, then a professor, then an inspector of fisheries. I like how Huxley went from apprenticing for medical doctors, assistant surgeon, then a professor, then an inspector of fisheries.
I like the quote from Huxley that you mentioned, as I think it’s a nice summation of the mindsets surrounding fisheries from the period he lived in. Looking back now, it’s easy to see that there has been large growth within the fishing industry regarding how quickly and efficiently fish can be caught, as the “inexhaustibility” of our oceans is no longer a luxury we possess.
There seems to be a trend of self-starters in fisheries. I suppose it’s the same for all untapped fields who need ambitious minds.
I honestly have no favourite characters, when I read most stories I will either be immersed with it and see myself as a mere viewer of the arts or I will put myself in the shoes of another. However in this story I could not find a way to put myself in the shoes of one that is relatable. It is hard for one to do that and I can not figure out why. Despite all the differences and meaning behind every ideaology and their teachings I can not bring forth a way to pick a favourite, none really poped out to me and none really made me feel like I was apart of it. Perhaps the HMS rattlesnake but honestly I can not find a good reason to think of them as a favourite character maybe I just like snakes too much compaired to the other characters.
I had a hard time picking a favorite too, normally when I read I pick a favorite further into a book or not at all. When I picked mine I picked the person that stood out to me, but most of the time I pick the person I can relate to.
I had a hard time picking out my favorite character because they were all so good. I decided to pick out Thomas Huxley because he stood out to me. Reading the part about the HMS rattlesnake was pretty interesting.
My favorite character so far from Billion Dollar Fish is Captain Stanchfield. He is a very intense character and I would argue the embodiment of a stereotypical Alaskan Fisherman; willing to do whatever it takes to prove his point, regardless of the consequences that this might have. A man with very strong beliefs and an even stronger determination to stick to these beliefs . A person willing to put himself in the way of danger, and to not be swayed by the threat of danger whatsoever. The part that really stood out to me in this regard was the story of him putting on a survival suit and jumping into the net of pollock, proceeding to ride in this across the Bering Sea until he was pulled into the Korean ship. All because he was convinced that he was being ripped off by the Korean processors. Stanchfield nearly died multiple times during this process. This act itself is insanely impressive, the fact that he did all this on the SUSPICION that he was being ripped off makes the story even better. I was also drawn to his story of resilience. Originally Stanchfield was a crab fisherman that turned to pollock after the collapse of the crab fishery. These are all part of what drew to me to him as a character of the book.
I like the mention of Charles Clover and his quote from “The End of The Line”. It was a vivid description that mimics the use of visualizations in Monroe’s Motivated Sequence with persuasive speeches and arguments. He made it seem like the way fisheries rise and fall in terms of success and numbers are almost like a medieval war. Armies from the rich fighting a force they created in the first place, seeming like a victim when they are the villain.