THE furore caused by the arrival of supertrawlers off our coast is justified but it is significant that those opposing these destructive, industrial-scale harvesters did not find their voice until these machines set their huge nets off our shores.
They have brought a version of a marine scorched-earth style of fishing to seas all around the world for many years. These vessels represent one of the most destructive interactions between commerce and the natural world.
This situation is exacerbated by the impression that efforts to police them are inadequate. The Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation (IFPO) argue that authorities are powerless to adequately monitor supertrawlers because of the European quota system and any vessel’s particular entitlements at any given moment. Their concerns seem motivated by the pressure of commercial competition rather than the impact these mega-trawlers have on precious fish stocks.
As man becomes ever more adept at catching, processing, and storing the seas’ dwindling bounty, fish species come under ever more pressure. It is a reality too that our stewardship of the world’s seas is hardly a glorious chapter in how we manage the world around us.
The licence extended to supertrawlers also contributes to one of the unfortunate trends of our time — the escalating concentration of wealth. Even for that reason alone their impact, and their sustainability, must be reviewed.
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