Stephen Eades – Destroying the fish that feed us – Nov 14

Imagine a world where we the human race, under the thumb of a predator who likes to eats our adult members, are forced to survive on the sexually reproductive capabilities of our teenagers because, quite simply, all adults over the age of 20 are “harvested” by the predator.

A little absurd, perhaps?

You would think so, but this is exactly what we humans are doing to all commercial wild fish stocks. We are using net sizes to “harvest” them which ensure that all their adults are caught and eaten by us after surviving for only one year of sexual maturity.

As you might suppose, this makes life very tough for fish. There are no older adults any more in their populations, and nearly all large fish have disappeared. This is particularly significant because as an adult grows older and doubles in length, so does its capability to produce eggs and sperm. Thus the greater the number of older fish, the more certain it is that the stock will be able to reproduce successfully and prosper.

Over the years our ruthless fishing regime has reduced fish stocks to a fraction of what they once were, and in many cases they are only 10% or less of their former abundance. 100 years ago we could feed ourselves easily from the fish we caught and we exported the surplus. It was a massive industry.

Now, we import 55% of all the fish we eat, and landings have fallen to the lowest level for 70 years (i.e. the lowest since World War II when fishing was very limited for safety reasons).

Very briefly, a ray of hope has shone on this situation. It comes from the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) whose purpose is to set standards which will restore our seas to a healthy condition by 2020.

The MSFD says that all commercial fish stocks must contain sufficient older members to ensure that the stock is in a “healthy condition”.

However this ray of hope is now being extinguished. Because it means that net sizes will have to be altered to let older fish escape, the fishing industry has been complaining to governments across Europe that this is “unreasonable” and a restriction to their right to fish. So now these governments — with the UK leading the way — are set to persuade the EU to abolish the MSFD requirement for older fish to be present in the stock.

As a result fish stocks are going to be forced, once more, to survive on the reproductive capabilities of their teenagers.

What do the fishing scientists say? Are they objecting on “scientific grounds” i.e. the stocks are distorted and their reproductive capability is dangerously compromised? No, they are simply saying that the problem is too difficult to solve!

What do the marine NGOs say? Are they campaigning against this dilution of the Directive which would otherwise be the antidote and salvation of rapidly disappearing fish stocks? No, they are almost universally silent.

What do the newspapers and journalists say? Are they writing about this failure to save fish stocks and to restore our capacity to feed ourselves? No, scarcely a word from their pens.

What do the politicians say? Are they taking immediate steps to ensure that the Directive is not diluted? No, they are the architects of this corruption.

Has the human race gone mad?

Marinet wonders, because no one seems to be paying attention to this endgame that is wholly of our own making.

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