Tag Archives: signs

Why use two words, when you can use several?

19 Feb

From the “none of us are as dumb as all of us” department, I happened to see this post and smiled. Recently, I’ve had to endure a lot of environmental legislation, so someone thinking that “no fishing” wasn’t encompassing enough puts a lot more faith in humanity than I do.

Contaminated fish IS a serious problem. Trust me, I’ve seen so many different diagrams about how pollutants accumulate in the bodies of plankton, which then accumulate in higher amounts with fish that eat the plankton, that accumulate higher in creatures that eat the fish (including us). The point being that most fish that you pull from your local rivers are not safe to eat… or at least, not safe to eat a lot of it.

So… how safe is safe? The national water quality standards for eating fish (to avoid pollution) in the US is 17.5 g. Most of my readers outside the US would think, “Damn, that’s small,” but although scientists use the metric system here, most Americans don’t. My mind (and most voters) don’t know from grams, so I would transpose that into ounces. Seventeen and a half ounces seems perfectly fine–and it is–that’s 500 grams. So when setting the water quality standards, most people would just shrug at 17.5 g and move on.

It took a lot of work by environmental groups to educate the public that 17.5 g was NOT acceptable. The most effective way is the dinner plate graphic that I show here. When you see the amounts of fish on your plate, suddenly it makes a lot more sense. They used that information to convince Washington State lawmakers to change the standards. And if you happen to be tribal or Asian or urban poor and feel the need to fish to add more protein to your diet, this is a major concern.

Which brings us back to that overly verbose sign–someone thought “If we just say, ‘No Fishing,’ then someone will say, ‘Well, I used a bucket, that’s not fishing, right?’ So best to cover all bases.” They didn’t go to the obvious “Some idiots won’t read your sign.” I remember when I lived in Virginia Beach, Virginia, I was walking along the canal and saw someone taking old chicken wings and using them to bait crab traps. There was a sign that said “no fishing” within easy sight distance. This fisherman didn’t think, “Why don’t I just fry up this chicken?” No, he said to himself, “I want crab and I don’t care how I get it.”

Eating crabs or fish from the Elizabeth River probably wouldn’t hurt if you did it once in a while. If you did it all the time, you’re gonna start losing hair. So why use two words when you can use several? Because people are trying to avoid frivolous lawsuits. There’s nothing on the bottle that says you can’t use Gorilla Glue on your hair, but if you took a moment to think about it, you wouldn’t.

I should go into a rant about “poorer but wiser,” but I should save that for another post. But what do you think? Are you start fishing off the city pier? Should we be stricter about water quality so you CAN fish off the city pier? Should we have any signs at all? Let me know in the comments below!

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