We here at FishOn love a good trade. Trade is the castor oil that moves international commerce and provides an alternative to the traditional method of national enrichment — start a war and grab as much land and natural resources as you can get your arms around before the ceasefire.
Our favorite trade of all time was the 1962 baseball deal in which the Indians sent journeyman catcher Harry Chiti to the New York Mets for a player to be named later. A fortnight hence, the Mets sent Chiti back to the Indians as the player to be named later. He was the first of four major league players effectively traded for themselves.
If only China operated with that same sense of humor when it comes to trade. Still, despite all the saber rattling and nasty looks, it appears we have reached a trade agreement with the Chinese. We just don’t seem to know any of the specifics, which seems to us to be the heart of a trade deal. But we are nothing if not patient.
The reports of the new trade agreement slowly leaked into the Twitterdom before the holidays, but really no official word yet from the U.S., China or the sovereign state of Freedonia on the devilish details — particularly what level of tariffs will be exacted by the Chinese on the importing of American lobsters.
The Associated Press reported that China agreed to reset tariffs for a number of agricultural and seafood products and the SeafoodNews fishing industry website reported that lobster tariffs will fall to about 5% from their current rate of more than 25%.
If accurate, that’s the kind of savings that could reopen the Chinese market for Maine and Massachusetts lobsters and give U.S. exporters a fighting chance at competing with their entrenched Canadian counterparts.
The deal is set to be signed Jan. 15 at the White House.
Here’s what we should do with China on trade: We should offer to trade them a 1951 Mickey Mantle rookie card for Mao Zedong’s 1934 Long March card series. How is that not a fair deal? The Chinese get the Commerce Comet straight up — I’m sure Bob Costas will be a patriot and relinquish his favorite baseball card — for the series commemorating the 6,000-mile trek that cemented Mao as the leader of the Communists.
There, win-win. Another international crisis narrowly averted. Hard to believe no one calls us for advice on the heavy stuff.
Quick trade quiz: Who are the other three MLB players traded for themselves? Answer below.
Surf & turf by itself
A judge in the Rhode Island Superior Court has ruled that oysters can be considered livestock. Let’s go the video!
Sorry, no video. But there are details. According to a story by LMG Rhode Island Holdings, which appeared on the SeafoodNews website, Judge Joseph A. Montalbano upheld a decision by the South Kingston Zoning Board to allow a local oyster farmer to use a slice of his land for aquaculture.
Perry Raso, according to the story, had been cited by the town’s building inspector for illegally using a portion of his property as a “land-based aquaculture support service to your wholesale seafood product business.”
Raso appealed to the zoning board and told them he considers the oysters livestock. He then trotted out the big guns.
“He presented Bob “Skip” Rheault, executive director of the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association, who told the board that he viewed farmed shellfish as livestock and that farming shellfish met the definition of agriculture — an accepted use of the land,” the story stated.
The board agreed. By a 4-1 vote, it reversed the building inspector’s ruling. It also accepted oysters as a form of livestock “and further concluding that livestock farming was permitted by right in that zone.”
Neighbors of the oyster farm appealed the decision to the superior court, but lost there, as well. Still, they had to know it was going to go one way or the utter.
Life imitating art
The Susanne II was one of several Irish fishing vessels that were being followed by some television cameras for eight months in the production of a documentary meant to show the masses just how dangerous it is to earn a living by going to sea every day.
While being filmed, the trawler caught fire and sank about 62 miles off the east coast of Ireland. The three-man crew was safely airlifted by the Irish Coast Guard after the Susanne II’s emergency beacon activated.
So much for luck of the Irish. As if those of us who are of Irish descent really have to make that point.
Quick trade quiz answer: Dickie Noles, Brad Gulden and former Red Sox infielder John McDonald.
As always, no fish were harmed in the making of this column.
Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT.