Anyone who has fished with a charter boat skipper in the dark and turgid waters off the Atlantic Coast has heard the lecture. Sometimes the softspoken mate spits it out through clenched teeth. Sometimes the captain bellows if from the tuna tower.
They swear and fume every time a big trawler heaves over the horizon. Their message is always the same - the miserable Japanese, Russians, Polish . . . they're stealing our fish.
In Ocean City today no one is jumping for joy, but there is new hope among the men who make their living fishing for fun. Today the nation takes control of foreign and domestic fishing in waters within 200 miles from shore.
"The skippers are happy about it. They don't really believe it will help a lot right now, they don't think the law has enough teeth in it. But this is a darn good start, and you're got to start somewhere," said Lloyd Lewis, who has worked around the Talbot Street pier long enough to make him an expert.
Lewis and his mate are concerned because under the new law, "The foreigners can still come in and catch fish. They just have to tell who they are and what they're catching.
"The question in every fisherman's mind is, 'How does a net know what's in it, a herring or a marlin? You pull those big nets out and by the time they get the fish sorted anything you can't have is dead anyway."
Indeed, the U.S. decision to extend territorial jurisdiction over coastal waters probably will do next to nothing for sport fisherman in the short haul. Over the long range it has a chance to strengthen the structure and balance of the Atlantic fishery, and that can't hurt sport fishing.
As Dr. Jackson Davis of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science sees it, "The species we sport fish have never been heavily impacted by foreign fishers in our area. Stripers (rock), croakers, trout, blues, spot, drum have never been taken in appreciable quantities by foreign fleets."
Davis said the biggest impact on sport fishing should be a decrease in foreign fishing pressure on black sea bass, mackerel and cod, none of which are prized sport catches in this area.
But Davis said he is "not meanly as pressimistic" as Ocean City skippers.
He believes the extension from 12 miles to a 200-mile limit is an outgrowth of a new attitude toward the sea. "For years, people looked at the vast ocean and thought, We'll never make an impact on fish populations.'" It was not until improved technology and increased world protein demand drained fish resources that the nation realized "we have indeed impacted fish populations, even endangered some," Davis said.
What the new law does is require foreign nations to sign agreements with the United States if they want to fish U.S. waters. The agreements establish U.S. jurisdiction over waters 200 miles from shore. The United States then issues permits to foreign boats to fish specific areas for specific fish.
Jerry Hill, public affairs officer for the National Marine Fisheries Service, said the law "allows us for the first time to manage our fish stocks."
"We analyze the populations, give the fist opportunity to U.S. ships, then if there is a surplus, foreign counories may apply."
Hill cities figures for decreased foreign pressure on fish in U.S. waters. In 1974, he said, foreign fleets took 3.3 million metric tons of fish within 200 miles of U.S. shores. The allocation for 1977 is two million metric tons of specified species.
One long-range benefit from anagement may be in billfish and tuna, which feed heavily on squid. Foreign fleets have concentrated for years on squid, which are not heavily fished by U.S. boats.
Davis feels new limits on squid fishing should benefit the billfish and tuna, which are the fightingest of deep-water fighting fish.
The new law is effective today. Coast Guard cutters and surveillance aircraft are on and over the seas, checking permits and observing the catches.
The sport fishermen in Ocean City, Hatteras, Wilmington, Hampton Roads and Cape May are busy, too, gearing up for summer and hoping for a change of fortune.