Monday, 14 September 2009

What a mist'hake' to make

Our fish stocks are in the safe hands of the European Union!!!

If you have had the thumb twiddling experience of sitting through the recent documentary ‘The end of the line’ where the concern centres around one species – the blufin tuna. Then endured people rising to their feet in tears around you at the end of the film congratulating each other with smiles and taps on the back in a great big ‘well done us’ group hug grossly unaware of what they have actually just watched and what little impact it will have on fisheries that do not yield blufin tuna. Then seen the celeb restaurants and chefs joining the London Paper’s ‘Aren’t we all so green’ save our stocks campaign as it. Did anyone really believe Pret used the highest valued fish – the blufin tuna – in their £2 tuna and mayo baguettes? Of course these documentaries yield hugely important messages, but the problem is that many viewers don’t understand them, an information overload.

The truth is that the blufin tuna, whilst critically endangered, is not alone. Numerous fish species are critically endangered or face potential population collapse. The blufin got lucky, it was the chosen one for a world wide documentary because of its importance to the sashimi market, its sheer jaw dropping size and its ability to bleed heavily when gaffed – all important when generating shock factor. However, these factors might just help save the species.

Let me give you one great example of governmental pressure aiding the over fishing of a species more local to us. Recently the French president Sarkozy pressured the EU, the self proclaimed protectors of our fisheries, to decrease the gill net size of a specific fishing gear from 110mm to 100mm in area 7 of the North Atlantic. This gear change would increase the total hake landings by Spanish owned vessels, registered in France, by 300 tonnes per week; all from the fishing areas of west Ireland. The result in this incremental mesh size alteration has to be the capture of a completely new year class of hake around 1kg in size. Now although they are not undersized they are on the borderline thus a mass removal of a year class that is unlikely to ever reach maturity. This will be disastrous for both the species involved and the small fishing communities of the Irish coast that have relied upon large hake for many generations. The EU is allowing hake stocks along the entire west coast of Ireland to be decimated. How can they allow this whilst claiming to be concerned with stock conservation? Interestingly the Irish vessels have decided not to set 100mm nets as they feel it would be detrimental long term. They will have to sit and watch their fishery be emptied by other EU vessels. It seems unlikely the ruling will be overturned the near future.

So lets shed some tears, shake hands and have a big group hug to celebrate the EUs incredibly bad decision making and easy yielding to major countries pressures, to the documentary makers inability to offer information past one species and one fishery and the ability of the press to take a subject they have absolutely no understanding of and confuse the reader further still. Additionally, Lets not forget those that jump on the bandwagon when it suits them.

1 comment:

  1. In a similar vein, there is a perhaps a perception by the public that, line caught means good ergo not line caught means bad - something of a dilemma for those promoting line caught fish alongside the rest!