Archive for Fish
www.bbc.co.uk 13th June 2012
EU fishery ministers have provisionally backed a ban on the wasteful practice of discards, whereby fishermen throw back non-target fish that are caught up in their nets. This would see discards of Herring and Mackerel banned by 2014 and those of Cod, Haddock, Plaice and Sole by 2018. The latter four will take longer to implement because of their tendency to swim together, therefore making it harder to avoid catching non-target species. The ban in not binding however and came as a result of a compromise following 24 hours of intense discussions between ministers, who all agreed that overfishing should end by 2015, 2020 at the latest. However, green groups such as Greenpeace have condemned the wording of the ‘agreement’, particularly the sentence: ”quantifiable targets linked to biological parameters”. Greenpeace argue that targets should be governed by science, not linked to it.
Sign Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s Fish Fight campaign now to keep the pressure on the EU Fisheries Commission to change.
The current standoff in the South China Sea reported in the BBC has the potential to be the beginning of something far larger in scale. The standoff is between China and the Philippines, and the area of contention is Scarborough Shoal, a small atoll of islands and reefs that lies well within the Philippines 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) dictated by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (above). However, along with most of the rest of the South China Sea, China claims the atoll belongs to them. On Sunday (8th April), the Philippine’s largest warship, on a routine patrol of the area, found eight Chinese fishing vessels around Scarborough Shoal. Upon boarding one, the Philippine navy found a large amount of illegally caught fish and coral. Two days after this, two Chinese navy surveillance vessels arrived on the scene and positioned themselves between the fishing vessels and the Philippine warship, foiling any attempts the latter had to arrest the fishermen. Tensions grew yet further with news, reported in the BBC today (Thursday 12th April), that a Philippine coastguard vessel was to join the warship to face down the Chinese.
China claims territory within the 200 mile EEZs of five other countries around the South China Sea: Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Taiwan. Regional flare-ups have happened in the past but they have, as yet, not ended in violence. One factor that must be taken into account when studying the geopolitics of the region is the possibility that a large amount of oil and gas resides beneath the Sea. This maybe one reason why China has been bolstering its navy in recent years, a move that makes it now the second largest naval force in the world after the USA with over 500 combat vessels. The People’s Liberation Army’s Navy also trialled its first aircraft carrier in the South China Sea.
However, another factor that is sure to play a part in regional tensions in this part of the world is fish. It is interesting to note that although the confrontational nature of the Chinese surveillance vessels off Scarborough Shoal maybe to safeguard the area for future fossil fuel exploitation, it kicked off because of illegal fishing around the islands. With 70% of the world’s fish stocks being fished close to, already at, or beyond capacity has led experts to predict a catastrophic collapse in worldwide fish-stocks by the year 2048. Coastal communities in south-eastern Asian countries such as China and the Philippines have traditionally relied upon fish as a main source of protein and as fish populations decline, fishermen are having to travel further afield to satisfy demand. Not only does this have a devastating effect on the marine environment (from unsustainable fishing practices alone), but it also causes territorial disputes such as the one brewing around the Scarborough Shoal.
The fact that the Philippine navy is about to commence naval exercises alongside the US Navy in the same area makes for an interesting, and possibly fatal, few months. Although it is by no means certain that hostilities will commence (actually it is extremely unlikely as the last thing either the USA or China want is a clash), the fact that a standoff is even happening is because, presumably, the Chinese fishing vessels cannot find enough fish in areas of water that are less contested. This of course does not take into account the possibility that the boats were deliberately sent to the Shoal to reinforce China’s claim on the area.
Nobody wants a naval war to start in the South China Sea. Exploiting oil and gas reserves would become very difficult if it did. However, China does need to decide what is a more important resource: oil or fish. The former may matter more for the economy but the latter may be worth more to the population. Riots have started for far less than an increase in the price of fish. If it turns out that fish is a more important resource, then we here at LMV would not be surprised if clashes do happen in the South China Sea.
www.telegraph.co.uk 12th May 2011
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has released a paper that states the consumption of resources by wealthy nations must be ‘decoupled’ from economic growth. As it stands today, the world uses around 60 billion tonnes of resources per year but, under a business as usual scenario, this figure could leap to 140 billion by 2050. Per capita in developed countries, this accounts for 16 tonnes of resources consumed annually. This is compared to an average of 4 tonnes per person in India. Achim Steiner, the head of UNEP, said that if developed countries don’t start doing ‘more with less’, then resources such as iron ore, timber, fossil fuels, and fish will begin to run out (many are already running out). “Decoupling makes sense on all the economic, social and environmental dials,” he said. “People believe environmental ‘bads’ are the price we must pay for economic ‘goods.’ However, we cannot, and need not, continue to act as if this trade-off is inevitable. Decoupling is part of a transition to a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy needed in order to stimulate growth, generate decent kinds of employment and eradicate poverty in a way that keeps humanity’s footprint within planetary boundaries.”
www.independent.co.uk 14th September 2010
The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) is to insert the same microchips into wild fish that are used in games console controllers. The ‘three axis’ motion indicators are used in the controllers to map how people move for consoles such as the Wii. The CEFAS, based in Suffolk, have spent six years and £559,000 adapting the technology to be used in a marine biology setting. The lozenge sized chip (measuring 3.6cm long by 1.3cm deep) can be stitched into fish bodies to record when they are yawning, breathing, coughing, and feeding. The technology can even be used to evaluate how much energy the fish is using. The aim of the project is to gain information that will allow improve computer models that set fishing quotas.
50 to 100 wild fish will be fitted with the chip after being caught and anaesthetised. The operation lasts two minutes and there is no evidence that it affects the lives of the fish involved.