Gibson settles with the Feds over Madagascar Ebony, Ring tailed lemurs rejoice.

So gibson settled with the Feds.

The full text of the settlement is over here.

I’ll save you the boring stuff and cut to the chase. Basically they settled and admitted to some wrong doing in exchange for the feds not prosecuting them any further. $350,000 seems like a lot to me, but hey making these things go away can be expensive right?

Gibson has a hilariously one sided intro complete with “BUT DAD, thats UNFAIR” moments like this.

“We feel that Gibson was inappropriately targeted, and a matter that could have been addressed with a simple contact by a caring human being representing the Government. Instead, the Government used violent and hostile means with the full force of the U.S. Government and several armed law enforcement agencies costing the taxpayer millions of dollars and putting a job-creating U.S. manufacturer at risk and at a competitive disadvantage. This shows the increasing trend on the part of the Government to criminalize rules and regulations and treat U.S. businesses in the same way drug dealers are treated. This is wrong and it is unfair.

Gibson gets caught and then whines when the government prosecutes them, freakin cry baby’s,

So what Gibson would prefer is that when the feds think criminal activity is taking place, the feds should call the criminal and ask them about the alleged activity and let them know before showing up? That’s a GREAT idea! Keep dreamin’ Gibson.

Secondly, the settlement makes clear that Gibson knowingly bought Ebony without the proper documentation, on the supposedly, “grey market.” And that supposedly employees knew about the grey market ebony and told superiors about the problem and nothing was done.

So I must apologize for my earlier post on this matter, and say the feds might just be right this time? And Gibson settling just proves that they knew exactly what was going on and failed to do anything about it, and now they are covering their asses and preventing their people form going to jail over this by paying up. The price of a Les Paul just went up.


San Franciscans will vote on the fate of the Hetch Hetchy, lets hope they get it right and by right I mean, DRAIN IT!

Pre-1913 Hetch Hetchy

About ten years ago three friends and I hiked part of the PCT and visited Yosemite. The book I packed along for the trip was John Muir’s Yosemite. Cliche? Perhaps. Good book? Yes.

I was totally awestruck by the beauty of the Yosemite valley, it really can’t be described in words. It must be experienced in person. But the fact that Mr. Muir  used equal weight, reverence and awe when describing the Hetch Hetchy to me was astounding. Because I knew that the Hetch Hetchy was under water. Now, the under water part can be fixed.

San Franciscans can vote to drain the Hetch Hetchy and right a wrong over 100 years in the making. Here’s more. What a strange bunch of bedfellows this has… please ignore party lines and just pull the plug.

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CALIF. — This fall San Franciscans will vote on a local measure with national implications: It could return to the American people a flooded gorge described as the twin of breathtaking Yosemite Valley.

Voters will decide whether they want a plan for draining the 117-billion-gallon Hetch Hetchy reservoir in Yosemite National Park, exposing for the first time in 80 years a glacially carved, granite-ringed valley of towering waterfalls 17 miles north of its more famous geologic sibling.

The November ballot measure asks: Should city officials devise a modern water plan that incorporates recycling and study expansion of other storage reservoirs to make up the loss?

The measure could eventually undo a controversial century-old decision by Congress that created the only reservoir in a national park and slaked the thirst of a city 190 miles away.

The battle over Hetch Hetchy, first waged unsuccessfully by naturalist John Muir, had turned the Sierra Club from an outdoors group into an environmental powerhouse. The fight gained momentum in recent years when unlikely allies joined forces.

On one side are Republican lawmakers and environmentalists, including Ronald Reagan’s former interior secretary, who want the dam removed and valley restored. On the other are Democratic San Franciscans, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, fighting to hold onto the city’s famously pure drinking water in a drought-prone state.

“Eventually it will be broadly understood what an abomination a reservoir in a valley like Yosemite Valley really is,” Donald Hodel, the former interior chief, told The Associated Press. “I think it will be hard to quell this idea (of restoration). It is like ideas of freedom in a totalitarian regime. Once planted they are impossible to repress forever.”

New study links Chinese apparel companies to river pollution. Suprised? Not in the least.

Red polluted water flowing from a sewer into the Jian River in Luoyang, north China's Henan province in December 2011. Red dye was being dumped into the city's storm water pipe network by two illegal dye workshops. ( STR/AFP/Getty Images)

A recently released study has linked Chinese apparel companies who supply many major brands and retailers in the US and around the world to devastating pollution of rivers. As fly fishers and environmental stewards we should man up and find other places to manufacture the gear we use.

I’m doing my part by making my SmithFly gear in the US where we have more strict regulations and protections in place to prevent these kinds of things. It would have been much easier for me to just go where everyone else get’s their stuff made, but I chose the path less traveled.

As I’ve said before the people of these third world countries will eventually figure it out.

For us, in the Buckeye State, it took setting a river on FIRE to figure out we had a pollution problem. Now, after DECADES of hard work by countless groups and individuals, in the those same watersheds we can find beautiful anadromous Steelies. A true turn around. We can help these countries avoid the calamity we suffered by being good neighbors and not supporting their lax regulations.

One of the myth’s about overseas manufacturing is that it’s just the cheap labor that keeps costs down. No, in fact it’s also the lax regulations and lack of oversight that let businesses dump waste directly into streams from industrial processes. No permits, no extra equipment, no dumping fees, no inspection costs = cheaper in the short run, but more costly in the long run. Negative externalities.

Here’s what the HuffPo has to say about the new study…

The sassy spring colors flooding into America’s stores are also polluting Chinese rivers, according to a new report.

Textile suppliers of Zara, H&M, Ann Taylor, Guess, Target, Disney and Uniqlo, among other big brands, have violated China’s environmental laws by contaminating water supplies with chemicals from dyes and printing, according to a new report released from the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, a Beijing-based nonprofit whose founder, Ma Jun, won this year’s Goldman Environmental Prize for Asia.

The report, entitled “Cleaning up the Fashion Industry,” bases its findings on the Institute’s online database of 90,000 environmental supervision records from Chinese government agencies, dating back to 2004. As of February, 6,000 of the Institute’s records were from textile plants, according to the report.

The report also tracked down the names of 48 international brands who source goods from polluters, in hopes of convincing fashion’s big names to establish stricter rules for suppliers.

When chemicals used in dying and printing are released into water supplies, they hurt both humans and animals, causing mass deaths of aquatic life and diseases like cancer in humans, according to the report. Access to water is limited in China, where one-fifth of cities have unhygienic water supplies and 300 million rural residents lack safe drinking water all together, according to ChinaDaily.

While the Chinese government does regulate water pollution, manufacturers have found a myriad of ways of getting around the rules, including constructing secret pipes or directly dumping wastewater into rivers. Many factories in the Institute’s database have violated standards multiple times. “Fines and punishments that are inflicted are insufficient to prevent factories from accruing repeat violations,” the report writes.

The Institute hopes that disclosing the relationships between international brands and suppliers who pollute might be more effective. Before releasing its report, the Institute sent letters to the CEOs of the 48 companies outlining the violations and received responses from 16. Many of the international brands named, like H&M, Walmart, Burberry and Adidas had already begun investigating violations. Others, like Abercrombie & Fitch, Puma, Guess and Zara have yet to address or respond to charges.

Inside FoxCon with Marketplace’s Rob Schmitz

So as many of you know, I’m a fan of PRI’s Marketplace. There is no more interesting podcast or engaging radio out there and I’ve sampled a lot of audio shows. I’ve written a little about the FoxCon before. Manufacturing conditions and lax, if not non-existent, environmental regulations at overseas factories was a big part of why I chose to manufacture all of SmithFly’s products here in the States.

One of the interesting take aways from the video below is that Foxcon doesn’t look that bad. In fact the scenes from the video could be straight out of the United States at the turn of the century. Long lines of zombie-fied workers moving from the country to the city, doing menial labor for not much pay, sounds familiar. We’ve moved beyond that, and China eventually will too. The funny thing is what took us decades to figure out could unfold in a matter of years due to enhanced communication of the digital age.

The other important thing to consider is that Foxcon is one of the BEST FACTORIES to work for in china right? So what do the lower end facilities that make all our clothes and shoes and fishing gear look like? What safety precautions are they short cutting? What environmental misconduct is going on?

Worse yet most pieces of apparel are being made in even more third world like countries where prices are even cheaper and regulations even more loose. Do you like supporting that?

I’m not advocating for a complete and immediate turnaround here. USA based manufacturing isn’t a reality for every product, I get that and it’s a fact. But I think we as a nation could use our purchasing power and position in the world as the top ranked market to emphasize the need for reform and put in place some policy guidelines and trade incentives to encourage proper working conditions and environmental stewardship. LEVERAGE THAT STUFF, because we got it.

If possible let’s all try to buy things that are made in countries where there are more humane worker right’s provisions and better more complete environmental controls.

The workers over there will eventually wake up to what’s going on anyway. We’ve lived through this ourselves so we can help them through this and be good trade partners by helping them figure out a smooth transition from shitty, to not so shitty.

History repeats itself…

Whole Foods Seafood get’s all Socially Responsible and stuff, but is it for real?

Whole Foods announced today on it’s blog that it will now be labeling it’s seafood based on the sustainability of harvesting techniques. While in principle, I think that sounds like a good idea, I’m not sure it really helps all that much. Getting people to think more about where the seafood they eat comes from is HUGELY important if we want to save the vast majority of piscatorial life forms and preserve our rivers lakes and oceans, but there seems to be some MAJOR holes in the policy, mainly in the salmon department Here’s what they are doing.

Back in 1999 Whole Foods Market was the first US retailer to offer Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified seafood, and each year we continue to offer our customers more and more MSC-certified seafood options. Wild-caught seafood from fisheries certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council is the top choice for sustainability, and we offer the widest selection available, from Alaska salmon and Pacific halibut to Nova Scotia harpoon-caught swordfish and Pacific cod. We’ve also got plenty of MSC-certified frozen fillets, seafood appetizers and more that are easy on the wallet and simple to prepare.

Since 2010, we’ve worked with the nonprofit research organizations Blue Ocean Institute (BOI) and Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA) to display their color-coded sustainability ratings to help our customers make informed choices when selecting wild-caught seafood. (Your local store has chosen to display ratings by either BOI or MBA. Please note that the ratings have slight differences.)

  • Green / best choice: species are abundant and caught in environmentally friendly ways
  • Yellow / good alternative: species with some concerns about their status or catch methods
  • Red / avoid: species suffer from overfishing or the current fishing methods harm other marine life or habitats
Here is the list of Red species:
  • Atlantic Halibut
  • Grey Sole (Atlantic)
  • Octopus (all)
  • Skate Wing
  • Sturgeon
  • Swordfish (from specific areas and catch methods rated “red” by our partners)
  • Tautog
  • Trawl-caught Atlantic Cod
  • Tuna (from from specific areas and catch methods rated “red” by our partners)
  • Turbot
  • Imported wild shrimp
  • Rockfish (only certain species)

The real problem is that it makes people feel that all the Green labeled species are ok to eat. And what we know from the fly fishing perspective is that a Salmon (and Steelhead) caught in the wild is a salmon that won’t return to spawn. That is a problem. Most of this, I’ll admidt, I got from the Patagonia Salmon Jerky propaganda machine, which makes the assertion that there is a bunch of “indiscriminate harvest and unsustainable fish-farming techniques” happening all over the world, and generally I agree with that statement and position.

The sad part is that Whole Foods seems not care about salmon farming, or indiscriminate wild gill netting of salmon for comercial food supply. THAT SUCKS.

The fact is I just don’t eat much fish any more. Mainly because I live in Ohio and there just isn’t that much good fish to be had.

But I will say, that the walleye fishery in Lake Erie does make for some KILLER all you can eat Walleye feasts on a Friday night at Buffalo Jack’s. And yes that’s a sustainable fishery, and one I have no problem utilizing. Walleye are tasty, and there’s plenty of them in that big shallow lake of ours.

Overfishing and Population growth, Food for 9 Billion. Using dynamite in one the most biodiverse fishing grounds in the world? Bad Idea.

PBS Newshour and APM’s Marketplace, two of my favorite new outlets, had a very interesting story last night on over fishing in the Philippines and how it relates to population growth and family planning, or lack there of. Here’s a quote from the transcript, hit the links above for audio and video. At the very least, it seems as though the people in charge over there know what the problems are. The problem is one of implementation.

SAM EATON, Homelands Productions: The Danajon double barrier reef off of Bohol Island in the southern Philippines is one of the richest marine biodiversity hot spots had the world.

But just a short boat ride away, more than a million people depend on these fishing grounds for their food and livelihoods. Rice may be the staple food of the Philippines, but fish provide most of the protein and daily diet. And as the population of communities like this one soar, nearly tripling in the last three decades, the effect on the reef has been devastating.

Fishermen are resorting to extreme tactics to boost their declining catch.

NAZARIO AVENIDO, patrol volunteer: We capture one boat this morning.

SAM EATON: Nazario Avenido and his group of volunteers operate 24-hour patrols, trying to protect their local fishing grounds. Illegal fishing has become rampant. Many use dynamite or cyanide, indiscriminately killing everything within their reach.

Avenido has confiscated more than 50 boats and hundreds of illegal nets in recent years.

Today, he seized this boat. Its owner, who escaped capture, was using a banned net that wreaks havoc on spawning grounds and sensitive corals. Avenido says the violators aren’t bad people. They’re just hungry.

NAZARIO AVENIDO: Because there is no other solution, especially when they are a very poor family.

SAM EATON: Poor in a country that has one of the highest population growth rates in all of Southeast Asia, every year adding about two million more mouths to feed.

The Apple factory, Foxconn manufacturing in china & why I make stuff in the USA.

If you buy stuff, especially Apple products, you owe it to yourself to go listen to the Jan 06, 2112 edition of This American Life.

Basically a guy went over to China to see where the Apple products he loves so much are made. He came home and turned it into a one man show that is absolutely riveting and totally supports my decision to make stuff in the USA (or any developed country).

Having just heard Rick Pope on The Itinerant Angler podcast I think it an appropriate time to post this. If you go back in the archives you can also hear Tim Boyle of Columbia and Yvon Chouinard wax poetic about being “international” manufacturers on earlier Itinerant Angler podcasts.

Keep in mind when listening to the This American Life show that Foxconn, the factory where many of Apple’s cool iProducts are made is a high profile high tech company, and the conditions are probably better than the places where many of our clothes and garments are made. Garment manufacture in some places is a dirty business. Dyes are used, washing systems and abrasion systems are used to distress the denim we wear. Resins and epoxy coatings are used to coat the technical fabrics we wear.

Who is making sure that the leftovers of the resins and dyes aren’t poured into the creek? Who is making sure they don’t burn the remnants because its cheaper to buy new than recycle the old? Who is protecting the workers? Who is looking out for them? Who is looking out for the environment around the factories?

A big thing I heard loud and clear in the This American piece is that things are still largely DONE BY HAND. No matter how crazy that sounds, it makes sense. Robots are expensive and take a LONG time to train. (i.e. program) People are pretty smart by comparison and learn quickly. So it makes sense.

I’m not one of those people who think everything should be made by an artisan in a workshop one at at a time. I appreciate that, and seek it out whenever possible and this blog celebrates because it’s rarity in our wold today. But for the general population that kind of manufacturing is a luxury that we can’t afford. Just like hunting all your meat and growing all your own veggies. There simply isn’t enough room for that to apply to the entire population of the world. If we want to make things sustainable we need to find a middle ground where we can take care of our environment and our workers and make things that people can use.

During the industrial revolution the United States and Europe went through what Asia and the developing world is going through right now. They owe it to the world to take the lessons we learned from history and not repeat them. Leap-frog over those problems and get to the good stuff.

Also we owe it to ourselves and to the world not to support grievous violations of workers rights, like 34 hour shifts.

When I had a good idea for a new line of products I used US based manufactures.