-FUR COMMISSION USA PRESS RELEASE, APRIL 4, 1998
Where Is This New Woman Coming From?
By Teresa Platt, Executive Director, FCUSA (April 1998 – May 2011)
FUR FARMERS ARE ALL ASKING THE SAME QUESTION: “Where is this new woman coming from?” Well, let me tell you where I am coming from.
Yes, I am new to fur but I am well acquainted with resource and animal use issues. I grew up, the daughter of an ag banker, in California’s San Joaquin Valley. When my father transferred to Los Angeles to specialize in international finance for farming and fishing operations, I experienced the culture shock of moving from a rural area to one of the world’s largest cities. I studied at UCLA, planned a career in the arts and marketing. My father took a job as the financial manager of a San Diego-based tuna fishing fleet and I helped him by working a few days a month in their office. Eventually, I followed my family south and settled in Coronado, a small town in the middle of San Diego Bay. I worked in advertising, marketing and publishing but when my father bought a tuna boat in 1986, I jumped ship and joined him full time. For the next seven years, I raised my two sons while managing the shoreside operations for our 200 foot fishing boat, its helicopter and the 18 crewmembers involved in this industrial operation on the high seas. I enjoyed doing business globally and I hoped for a long career producing fine tuna products from the yellowfin which is so plentiful south of San Diego thanks to fifty years of good management.
My plans were disrupted by the activities of the animal rights activists who objected to fishermen encircling and releasing dolphins in the process of harvesting tuna. They even complained that the noise of our boat engines disrupted the fragile social structures of the cetacean “families.” They advised the fishermen to abandon the Pacific Ocean, establishing a marine mammal “sanctuary.” Of course, animal rightists abhor what fishermen do to tunafish but generally keep that agenda to themselves, concentrating on throwing everything at fishermen to stop them from successfully catching fish.
And so my introduction to Animal Rights 101 began. I learned a lot about my industry. With less than 50 boatowners in Southern California, it was obvious we didn’t have the political power base necessary to change the Marine Mammal Protection Act. And without changes, there would be no fifth generation of tuna fishing families.
With several fishing families, I helped form the non-profit Fishermen’s Coalition in 1992. We learned to reach out to others for help. I wrote, gave speeches, met thousands of people across the country. I volunteered for committee and was enlisted to serve on the boards of groups promoting conservation and animal welfare while opposing preservation and animal rights. I made friends among politically active people supporting sustainable use, wise use, the protection of property rights and the democratic process. The Internet took us global cheaply so we could work with resource caretakers in Australia, Canada, Brazil, Chile, Greenland, Iceland, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. I traveled to meetings such as the International Whaling Commission and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
We developed friends in virtually every Congressional district in the country by doing our grassroots politics the old fashioned way: from the bottom up. Mexico and the European Union filed and won two positive rulings from the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT, now the World Trade Organization or WTO) and by 1995, five major environmental groups split from the animal rightists and supported the fishermen. Our work resulted in a shift from articles full of misinformation and lies to press clips of balanced and supportive pieces.
Positive editorials appeared in USA Today, The New York Times and many other periodicals. Even President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore wrote letters of support. In 1997, legislative changes to the Marine Mammal Protection Act passed the Senate with a final vote of 99 to 0. The final changes specified by this law will be enacted in March of 1999.
At the end of it all, the activities of The Fishermen’s Coalition protected my family’s investment in our fishing boat and my father sold it and retired. I reconsidered a future of marketing and advertising for the San Diego’s service sector or shoreside operations for another tuna boat. But advertising no longer challenged me and the tuna fleet is reduced by half and will require years to recover from the beating it took at the hands of the extremists.
“How,” I wondered to myself, “can I find a job that combines public relations, politics, coalition building and animal and environmental issues?” Your search for an executive director was a search specifically for me. I am sure of this and I am excited about working with you.
You Are Not Alone
When the Endangered Species Act leveled the Pacific Northwest timber industry for an un-endangered owl with a range from Canada to Mexico, people wondered, “Have things gone too far?” When the Unabomber killed California Forestry Association’s Gil Murray, people asked the question out loud. Now that animal rightists and preservationist policies threaten virtually every human endeavor, people are complaining loudly to their government and actively working on change.
As the old saying goes: The good news is: you’re not alone – and the bad news is: you’re not alone. The timber battle in the U.S. is loud and incurring more human casualties and environmental damage than the battles over mink, whales, elephants, seals, rainforests and dolphins combined. Are we “One World, One People” or “One Planet, Diverse Peoples?” Is the world’s biological diversity best protected by removing the stewards from the land and sea, by promoting a mono-culture of city people? It is never explained who will provide the food, fuel, clothing and shelter once huge swaths of land and sea are cleared of man or where the opportunities in the city will come from once use of nature is disallowed. Too few question the logic of a philosophy that locks resources up and people out.
Will we lose the hope America promises simply because the numbers of the city dwellers far outnumber the rural producers? Will local resource policy be dictated by direct mail propaganda pitched and peddled to the urban masses by Crisis Industrialists? Will the Earth’s absentee landlords, living in the cities and yearning to participate in a stewardship role, succeed in eliminating the stewards?
There are not enough fur producers in this country, in this world, to make a political difference. But we are harvesters and hunters. We are landowners and recreationists. We are farmers and ranchers. We are loggers and miners. We are research scientists and zoologists. We are pet breeders and aquarists. We are fishermen and trappers. We feed, fuel, clothe, shelter, cure and educate the world. We are the true conservationists. We are strengthened by our diversity, not divided. Fur farmers must look beyond the county line and participate in the debate. Globally. Together we can create a world of healthy human communities embraced by healthy ecosystems. That is the goal. We can only reach it together.
For further information contact Fur Commission USA.
© 1998-2011 Fur Commission USA
-FUR COMMISSION USA PRESS RELEASE, APRIL 4, 1998