"Public support was key to success. Calendars provided a way to inform the public about solutions that would benefit everyone and our environment. Postcard petitions gave people an easy way to get involved. There was a calendar picture on them with information about whatever issue was most pressing at the time. They stated support for or opposition to something and were already addressed. Thousands of people signed and sent postcards for different issues. There was a level of public support that could turn the tide on any issue. One of our biggest victories was over a plan to make us install Vessel Monitoring Systems on our boats. We would be forced to buy expensive tracking devices from a corporation and pay them to spy on us every month. I explained how requiring citizens to install tracking devices on our private property was unconstitutional and dubbed them Orwellian Vessel Monitoring Systems. One fishery manager argued that we should go along with it since that was how they did it in Russia. Wow! What a stunning statement. It seemed like the law would pass despite overwhelming opposition from fishermen and the public. Days before the final vote I called into a national radio program and asked everyone listening if they would contact the management council to politely oppose their Orwellian scheme. The vote was close but in favor of freedom. Council staff later told me that enough calls came in from across America opposing “Orwellian Vessel Monitoring Systems” that they swayed the vote. We have power in numbers. We can influence outcomes when enough of us stand united. The bigger the issue, the more people it takes. Polite persistence wins in the end."
One voice can make a difference, but many voices with a coordinated message carries much more weight. A fishery manager once told me that they listen when most fishermen say something similar and do whatever they want when everyone is saying something different. I talked with a Senator's assistant at a public meeting who told me that 300 comments about the same thing was a magic number that pushed an issue to the next level of attention. There is no way any one person can know about every issue. That is why it is so important to share information in ways that connect with people and make it easy for them to show support. Most people can understand why forcing citizens to install corporate spy devices on private property is wrong. It is easy to see how this could lead to more Orwellian mandates. One way government officials implement things like this is by forcing it on small groups without enough influence to stop them. This sets a precedent that allows other officials to push similar agendas. Near unanimous opposition from fishermen was not enough to influence the outcome many considered to be a fait accompli. It was only when enough people who would not be directly impacted got involved that we turned the tide. Being polite even in the face of a blatant attack on our Constitutional Rights is vitally important. Yelling and being rude is usually counterproductive as the message is easily dismissed by those we are trying to convince. Imagine the influence we would have with a coordinated message that makes sense and is politely delivered by one person after another until our united voice is heard. Some issues might only require a few people to get involved while others might require a few million to speak up. There is a level of support between one concerned citizen and all of us that can win any battle. We should be able to agree to disagree on some issues and stand together on others. We have more power when people with different views on most issues can agree on something reasonable. Being polite to each other and public officials is just as important as being right.