Sunday, 22 November 2015

Rule #46: Super trawlers

Nothing super about these abominations of the sea. I touched on this in the cod moratorium post, but I think they deserve special attention as they’re impact reaches far beyond the collapse of the cod stocks.
Super trawlers are anti-sustainable in design and devastating in their implementation. They could be described as floating factories that destroy the very environment they thrive on. With the ability to stay out at sea for weeks, they can catch in a single day what would take 56 traditional African fishing boats a year to harvest. I’m not suggesting we should limit our technology to that of an African fishing village, but this is simply environmentally and economically unsustainable. European trawlers actually rape the African seas of their fish. Then sell the fish back to Africa, decimating the local fish stocks and local fishing economy.
Besides the fish stocks and economic issues, there are the environmental impacts of trawlers that use “bottom trawling”. Bottom trawling – or “dragging” - has been compared to forest clear cutting. When you have large vessels with nets the size of football fields systematically towing patterns over the ocean floor, large-scale habitat destruction occurs. It creates harmful algae blooms or oxygen-deficient dead zones, which cannot recover for decades.
Thanks to modern day technology, the dragger fishery no longer involves uncertainty. We now have the technological capacity to track down the last fish in the ocean. Unfortunately, these highly effective fish hunting machines are not very selective. The by-catch, or random killing of non-target species, is much higher in the automated fishing operation of a super trawler than in any other type of fishing. Dolphins and seals are killed directly, and the removal of vast quantities of red bait and mackerel impacts the ecosystems where these boats fish by destroying the food chain that supports tuna, sharks, seabirds and mammals.
This type of fishing is environmentally, economically and morally wrong. The perfect storm for corporate profitability.
 In the new world, ocean-devastating trawlers will be banned.

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