One of the easiest ways to know that things are not going well is the continued use of the word “deep.” Deep well drilling and deep sea fishing are perhaps the two most prominent in today’s world, cluing us in on the fact that those industries have exhausted more manageable supplies. A recent investigation by Greenpeace has found that Spanish fleets are pulling in three times the amount of fish, predominantly funded through EU subsidies, and have released this video to raise awareness of the issue.
Greenpeace’s latest initiative comes after a recent paper released in Marine Policy stating that deep sea fishing anywhere is unsustainable. According to Telmo Morato, a marine biologist and one of the paper’s authors, the estimated mean depth that fishers pull from has tripled in the last half-century, from 492 to 1,706 feet. This coincides with research published in Nature Communications, which states that the entire UK fishing stock has decreased by 94% in the past 118 years, predominantly due to fishing trawlers. Rashid Sumaila, the Marine Policy paper’s other author, stated that such trawlers receive $162 million annually in governmental subsidies, roughly 1/4 of each company’s profits.
The main goal of the Greenpeace initiative is to rally European citizens to call for an end to such subsidies. According to the organization, the fishing industry is failing to honor the Common Fisheries Policy, which promotes sustainable fishing throughout Europe. The CFP sets a limit on how many fish of each individual species can be caught by each European country. Because of this the agency has long been criticized by fishers, who claim the imposed limit harms their bottom line.
Perhaps the best comment on the topic has come from a Greenpeace blogger, who writes, “the people who buy and eat fish have a lot more power to change the fishing industry for the better than those of us who don’t.” As a fellow vegetarian, this issue affects me as much as the next person. I may not have to worry whether or not I’ll be able to eat Chilean seabass in five years, but the many hazards in which deep sea trawling affects the ocean’s ecosystem goes well beyond what winds up (or doesn’t) on our dinner plate. Whether or not we want to admit it, the ocean’s bottom line is much more valuable than any currency we have created.
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