"Art is not a mirror with which to reflect the world; it is a hammer with which to shape it"

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

In Deep Water

Anybody watching the news in Britain today will have seen that the Fishing Industry has come up again. And again the issue is over the quota business. In short: North Sea fishermen (particularly) can only land catches of certain varieties up to the quota limit. Anything of these varieties over the limit has to be thrown back into the sea to preserve the stocks… even though by this time it is dead and is now good for nothing but gull-food. It was quite clearly lunacy when I realised this several years ago and it’s clearly lunacy now. There are a couple of problems to contend with: firstly, if you let the fish land and be sold you are rewarding people for breaking the quotas and this will end up being flagrantly abused no matter how understanding the authorities are to genuine over-catches; next, the fish in the sea are a finite resource and must be protected; lastly, the throwing back of perfectly saleable edible dead fish is unethical, immoral and unbelievably wasteful. Trawling for one type of fish is the equivalent of taking a scoop of hundreds-and-thousands and hoping you'll only pull up red ones!

Personally, my idea, which is totally na├»ve and daft of course, is to allow the over-quota fish to be landed and sold but, instead of directly benefiting the fisherman (the under-quota catch to be sold for their direct benefit like now), the money goes into a hardship fund for the benefit of the whole fishing community: to be used when the quotas are fully filled and the fishing fleet is laid up. The fishermen don’t benefit directly and have no incentive to over fish; the fish aren’t wasted; once the quotas are filled the fishing stops as always but there is money available to benefit the fishermen during the off-times. I know… it’s stupid and I’m entirely sure the politicians will come up with something far better and more sensible… maybe some kind of quota system which involves throwing good fish back into the sea. Dead.

No comments: