Friday, 21 January 2011

A thought provoking article on fisheries.

The recent hullabaloo in the TV media over fisheries in the UK and other parts of the world have generated new discussions of how to achieve sustainability for certain threatened species, as well as resurrecting old arguments and possible solutions. The focus of the vehemence over fish stocks is often directed at the fishermen themselves, when it is plainly and painfully obvious that it is we, the consumers, who are ultimately to blame.
I made a tongue in cheek statement a couple of blogs ago about unemployed folk from the UK being sent out on barges to hand line for fish a-la-maldives, but this excellent article raises the bar on the sustainability question and asks whether there could be a legally binding designation for some fish to be classed as "recreational species".
This would see the capture of these species moved over to tightly regulated hand caught fisheries where profitable sustainability is the sole purpose, and the trawler men of yesterday gain employment from these new enterprises, as well as associated industries such as tourism.
The pro shark movement have in general been reluctant to embrace the angling lobby, and with plenty of images from around the world of anglers holding up dead sharks whilst flexing their muscles and oozing testosterone, who can blame them. But there is another type of angler that inhabits the other side of the fishing coin. These are true water craftsmen who have lived by water probably since they were children. They are almost permanently dressed in green or grey, and over 90% of them have beards. When they catch a fish, they handle it like it is a precious jewel, if they don't eat it, it is returned gently to the water. OK, I'm a little heavy on the stereotype, but these types of fishermen were the pioneers of careful and respectful water craft, and provided the backbone for much scientific knowledge of shark migration through tag and release, as well as possessing infinite knowledge of local ecosystems and population trends, and I would hazard a guess that they will always hold more knowledge of such things than your average marine biology graduate.
The question therefore is not "How shall we manage our trawlers?" but "When do we decommission the nets and begin to use rod and line?".

1 comment:

bytheseaside said...

We are actually very pleased with the commitment of all the contributors ( to articulate their thoughts, opinions etc in a pretty easy to read and generally objective manner - there were no guidelines given to them other than their article should generally address some aspect of marine life, conservation, sea angling and where possible / appropriate, within a Scottish context.

We are the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network (SSACN - sea anglers with an interest in conservation !

As part of our work, we run the Scottish Shark Tagging Programme (SSTP One of its primary objectives is to gather the data necessary to ensure a future for Scottish shark stocks.

Gathering the data is essential, no matter how persuasive written papers may be, governments are reluctant to act without scientific data.

The tagging is done by volunteer anglers, near enough 300 each year, from all over the UK come to help out. All the anglers take part at their own expense, contributing £ millions /yr to the local economies when doing so.

Whilst some non-anglers may still have a vision of anglers 'flexing their muscles and oozing testosterone', perhaps it is time they became a little more objective, reviewed their pre-conceptions and perhaps even supported those anglers who, whilst continuing to enjoy their sport, are undertaking practical conservation by gathering the data necessary to support the arguments.

Naturally we'd welcome any thoughts, applications for membership, donations etc as we are an independent charity.

Contact details on