You should believe little that is written on our fisheries – particularly where that is from NGO’s or Governments. Instead you trust your instincts and open your eyes and understand what the markets are telling you. Then think again and the solutions seem obvious. Let me explain.
Fish don’t have votes but fishermen do, so will always come first. It is the job of politicians and the big business interests running our fishing industries to tell us its all ok and business as usual. It’s not.
Go to your local supermarket where you will find baby hake fillets and sole petite and a host of other smaller fish. Not because they are easier to catch or tastier but simply because we have eaten their parents. You don’t need to be a farmer to understand that eating your breeding stock is not a good thing. In fact the only full sized fish you are likely to see are farmed ones. A trout or salmon farm can use as much as 2.3kg of sea caught fish – ground up into fish meal - to grow just 1kg of fish – of which we only eat the fillets!.
Whilst it is true that huge strides have been made in the feed conversion ratios and that farmed salmon are more efficient at converting feed into protein than say poultry or cattle, they still require more fish in than you get fish out. You are still better off eating the last fish in the sea than these farmed species.
Fish like Tilapia and Barramundi require far less marine protein and therefore have a lower impact. Still we take millions of tons of fish from our seas each year just to provide protein for out industrial farming operations.
When a single mature Tuna sold for $730,000 in Tokyo earlier this year – almost double last years record of $370,000. It is the market telling us they are rarer that Rhino horns which sell (illegally) for the same around $400,000 each.
When a fishing trawler rocks up on Cape Town’s Clifton Forth Beach everyone worries about the potential of an oil spill that will devastate the lovely sandy beach. In this mad world no one thinks to questions what a Japanese trawler full Tuna from our South African territorial waters is doing there in the first place.
We have already destroyed the greatest natural wonder of the sea world – the grand banks. They have banned fishing on the sea of Galilee because there are no fish left. When will we stop this madness and do the only thing we can do which is develop our marine protected areas. Where areas of our seas have been declared off limits to all fishing, stocks recover, mature fish breed and the young when overcrowded swim out to open seas where they fill the fishermen’s nets sustainably.
In a world where resources not taken by one person will be taken by another there is no other solution to the issue of our seas. Instead of pawing over new car brochures deciding on what extras to add to their latest state purchased luxury car – our ministers should be busy implementing a comprehensive marine reserve system around South Africa and lobbying our neighbours to do the same.
Lets get busy repairing our future .
Author of "The Protein Crunch – Civilization on the Brink" and the recently launched "The Story of the Fly and How it can Save the World"