Where have all the mackerels gone, long time passing, Where have all the mackerels gone, long time ago. Where have all the mackerels gone, the gill nets have caught them, every one, O when will they ever learnÖ (from song, Where Have all the Flowers Gone, by Pete Seeger)

This group that is fighting the gill net ban has got to be joking. The only story that has some sense to it was made by a caller to one of the talk shows (I canít remember which one) who said that the reason the Fisheries Department hasnít banned gill nets is that there is a lobby coming out of Guatemala. Ouch.

There is no scientific reason to support gill net use. They have massacred the mackerels and other prized fish for the pot that swim on the surface, and they have done massive damage to the sports fishes. There is no support for continued use of gill nets. It is a practice that should have been done away with more than two decades ago.

This gentleman who argued that gill netting has been done since Jesus days must be in a kind of time capsule because a lot has changed since then. The website www.english-online says there were an estimated 300 million people in the world when Jesus was here. Today, this moment, there are more than 7.5 billion people on the earth. The simple math says there are more than 20 times more people on the earth now. Thatís 20 times the pressure.

The groupers are taking too long to come back. The Fisheries Department has restrictions on the ďgrouper banksĒ, but no maybe about it, they should go for a total ban to give the fish a chance to return to the days of glory.

Of course there will be fisher folk who resist. Heck, I would resist in Camalote too, because every year without fail I dream of going back to Emily. I actually plan, only in my head, for it. Grouper roe is overrated ógood, not the best ó but grouper flesh is ďAĒ class quality. Itís about as good as barracuda in a boil-up, fresh or corned, and itís delicious fried too. My mom used to prepare it like fried chicken. She dipped it in an egg batter, then she rolled it in a bowl with flour, and then, into a pot of hot coconut oil. Ooh!

Yes, itís clockwork that in December I get grouper bank fever. Thereís a simple solution to satisfy the few fisher folk who make some dough off grouper. Nobody is getting rich off that fish because they arenít that many anymore. The Fisheries Department knows who are fishing the banks that are not completely closed and a simple investigation could reveal how much these fisher folk grossed last year off grouper. Take out the cost of fuel, labor, and gear expenses and pay them the profit they would have made.

Our government canít have spent all the Petro Caribe funds on cement streets.

by Colin Hyde for Amandala