Trawlin' Out Of Control
Like Donald Trump’s hair, supertrawlers fucking terrify me. They are monstrous boats exceeding 100m in length, trailing nets up to 5 times the size of the vessel, with giant freezers on board meaning they can fish for weeks, months on end. Indefinitely and indiscriminately pillaging the seas, thousands of tonnes at a time.
Some supertrawlers have nets with mouths wide enough to fly an A380 through, giving them the capacity to haul and freeze 250 tonnes of seafood a day. Europe’s fisheries have been completely decimated by the lack of regulation regarding the use of these boats: small-scale operators make up 80% of the industry, but hold only 20% of the market share. It’s sad but predictable: how were they supposed to prepare for contention with vessels the size of the SCG?! Australia’s fishery has so far been safe from long-term effects of supertrawlers, but with no shortage of potentiality - F.V. Margiris and the Geelong star have checkered our news headlines since 2012 with nothing but controversy.
I can’t urge you enough to be mindful of where your food comes from. It’s so easy to assume something is sustainable and relinquish yourself of the responsibility to research whether it really is or not. But it seems there is a lot of room for environmental pitfall in the fishing game: ss far as seafood goes, if it didn't come from your own line or a locally-caught fish shop, chances are it came from some seriously dodgy practices.
Take De Costi seafoods for example: owned by Tasmanian fishing company Tassal. Tassal don’t use ‘supertrawlers’ (defined in Australia as boats exceeding 130m in length), but they have been found in breach of a wild multitude of environmental laws, including drugging their salmon stocks with antibiotics to make their flesh turn pink, and decimating a world heritage listed marine reserve by overfishing. And this was after Tassal received a $3.85 million dollar commonwealth grant in 2014!!! Yep, our government loaded them up with dollars right before they committed a long string of serious environmental crimes in 2015 and 2016, far beyond the two aforementioned.
And yeah, that $3.85mil was our money by the way. Taxpayer dollars. YOUR dollars.
This situation, and the very concept of supertrawlers, exemplify a sad maxim I find myself melancholically repeating over and over again: ‘sustainability’ seems to be more about economics than the environment. What else could symbolise capitalism’s defeat of true democracy any better than the shocking mismanagement of our global fish stocks.
It seems self-explanatory for me that these things should be illegal to operate, even to manufacture in the first place. In Australia we have a good track record of telling them to bugger the hell off, however only with much political and corporate fuckery attached... last night I discovered a thread and began pulling, learning a long, convoluted and terrifying story in the process. A spine-chilling tale of how political gamesmanship can open doors to environmental treason literally tantamount to crimes against humanity. (That story needs a podcast to do it justice, look out for it tomorrow!)
Look, where your food comes from is important, but at the end of the day no one is accountable for your diet but you.
So just don’t excuse yourself for ignorance, and don’t excuse yourself from research!
It all counts!