A bill that would have imposed a moratorium on fishing horseshoe crabs in Virginia was killed in committee. Overfishing of horseshoe crabs, which are used as bait, has been linked to the steep decline of the red knot, a small sandpiper that migrates along the Atlantic seaboard. Despite much evidence linking the red knot crash to horseshoe crab decline, the committee decided to accept industry testimony instead. Eventually it came down to a common false dichotomy:
The trouble is that overfishing horseshoe crabs is not just a problem for red knots and other shorebirds that depend on their eggs for food. Without intervention, eventually the horseshoe crabs are not going to be there in sufficient numbers for people to use, either. So it is really in the long-term interests of the fishing industry to stabilize the populations to avoid wasting valuable resources, and destroying yet more species. Unfortunately short-term profits govern the debate on environmental issues.
Rick Robins, a spokesman for the conch industry, said the bill would kill the industry in Virginia and put 180 people out of work.
"Those jobs are critically important" to the economically struggling Eastern Shore, he said....
The prospect of job losses resonated with Del. Daniel W. Marshall III, R-Danville. "I think we should put people before birds."