To every thing there is a season. Ecclesiastes
I don’t much like the word “retire.” It brings to mind turning out the lights and going to sleep. I’m not, far from it. But after more than 41 years with Wild Oceans (nee NCMC), the time is right to pass on the leadership of the organization to someone new.
I’ve been thinking of those TV cop shows where the retiring detective collects his personal belongings from his desk in a cardboard box. I don’t have a box big enough, because everything here is personal. Between one and two thousand articles written for our newsletter going back four decades. Hundreds of articles published in fishing and fisheries publications. An incalculable number of comment letters and statements submitted to government agencies and Congress on a wide range of ocean issues. Not to mention dozens of reports and monographs, etc., etc.
I mention these writings because, in addition to being integral to the changes we brought about during my tenure, collectively they define my career. They represent not only the history of my personal involvement in marine conservation, but also my growing understanding of the place of fish and fishing in our ocean world and my developing philosophy toward both. It’s all personal.
That philosophy is best summed up in this observation by novelist W. Somerset Maugham: “The study of Ethics is part and parcel of the study of Nature; for man must learn his place in the world before he can act rightly and reasonably.” I’ve learned that acting “rightly”, when we fish or interact with the sea in any way, means cooperating with Nature’s processes and yielding to Her limits. In a word, co-existence. It’s the only way.
A colleague recently asked me, how can I retire when there is still so much to do? Because there is so much I want to do. After an estimated 100,000+ hours working on ocean fish conservation – compare to Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule for mastering an activity – I believe I’ve done what I can.
I’m ready to let go and take on new priorities in my life, a decision made easy because I know Wild Oceans will be in good hands. Pam and Theresa embody both the principles and the style that define our uniquely successful mission, we have a reinvigorated board, of which I will be a part, and Rob is simply the right person at the right time to lead us.
We will continue to face threats to the oceans and fishing, maybe more serious than we’ve ever faced before. How will we fare? Maugham again: “It wasn’t until late in life that I discovered how easy it is to say, ‘I don’t know.’ “ But I do know we will face them, that we must. And let the immortal words of Capt. Bill McDonald of the Texas Rangers be our guide: “No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that’s in the right and keeps on a-comin’.”