Stephen Eades – The crisis in our seas – there is a solution, but is anyone interested in delivering it? – Jan 15

The facts that I have set for you in my present series of fisheries blogs are enough to make even the angels despair. However, let’s remember that we are responsible for this situation, so it is in our power to change it. This is the subject of this particular blog, and my purpose is to show you the solution and the principle that governs the way we change things.

What I cannot do is give you the will-power to join me and all the other members of Marinet in this task. So I am counting on you to deliver this powerful component.

Whether you are a fisherman, an oil man, indeed a marine conservationist or any other person who derives their livelihood from our seas, the one quality which we all need to embrace is respect for oceans and seas, their ecology and their life.

That sounds obvious, not least because our self-interest would seem to recommend it.

However, I’ll bet nearly all of you fail the test. What would that test be? That test is : do you, under all circumstances, put the interests of the seas and oceans, and their ecology and life, before your own?

Or do you say, yes okay — but actually I still need to make a living, and I need to take what I need first, so I’m compelled to put the rest of that “respect stuff” second.

I’ll also bet that if you’ve just failed the test, you will be saying to yourself (and me) — be realistic, that’s life !

So, what is realistic here? That everyone continues to put their own interests first? If so that means everything goes on just as it is now, with conservation as a side show that’s applied like a sticking plaster when things get out of control. Is that really “realism”?

That’s the kind of world where the whaler who killed the last whale, on being asked why he did it, says “don’t blame me, because if I didn’t do it you can be certain someone else would!”
I’m sure you can appreciate the insanity that underscores that reply. So, what do we do? Where is, and what is, the solution?

The answer is in that word, respect. What it means is that we put the interests of the oceans, and the well being this world, before our own. And we do so because we know that if we do not then the natural world dies and, when that happens, we are destined to die with it.

Worryingly, this is what is happening at the moment. The oceans are dying. Not sure about that? Then read my blogs again, and have a look at the record on our website

The solution to this? The solution is simple. We place the well being of the ecology of our seas above all other needs. This is the imperative needs principle. The natural world comes before us, because if we have it the other way around then the natural world dies and we disappear with it. This is the principle that is lucidly explained in Marinet’s new publication by Deborah Wright, Conserving the Great Blue : Overturning the Dominant Ocean Paradigm.

It is the same principle that we recommended to the EU in its recent CFP reform — if you want to rebuild the fishing industry and re-establish fish food security, then you rebuild fish stocks to the maximum levels that ecological conditions will permit, and you do this by calling a halt to the commercial fishing of spawning and nursery grounds and, whilst these stocks are rebuilt for the ultimate benefit of ourselves, the industry and the seas themselves, you re-employ the displaced fishermen and their vessels as the managers of these protected areas

Uncertain still about the solution? It means, putting ourselves second and the oceans first.

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