Doing your bit: Overfishing (Apr 2012)

I’ve previously written about how the effects of the EU fishing policy is affecting local UK fishermen. But what about the rest of the world? Well the decimation of fish stocks is not only an EU problem. Now EU fishing vessels are helping to destroy fish stocks all around the world, and particular in Africa, with calamitous consequence for local fishermen and communities.

Greenpeace says,

 “The European fleet is unfairly competing with local fishermen. It would take 56 traditional fishing pirogues one year to catch as much fish as one super-trawler can capture and process in a single day”.

How is this sustainable? It’s not. The impending collapse of  EU fish stocks are proof of this. The European Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki explains why the current “crisis” is unsustainable and “unethical”.

Listen to the radio interview:

And that’s the “legal” fishing operation. I say “legal” because these “arrangements” with local governments are hardly fair, are not sustainable and have little or no benefit for local fishing communities. I think we can all read between the lines here…

What about the illegal fishing? There is a massive pirate fishing operation happening. I remember as a kid growing up on the coast in South Africa,  seeing foreign trawlers pounding (and in the process destroying) the reefs off our coast before dashing off to International waters before the navy could intervene.

Greenpeace activists from the ship Arctic Sunrise take action against Russian super-trawler Oleg Naydenov, off the coast of Senegal

What is the UK’s biggest fishing boat doing in West African seas?

Today South Africa is able to protect it’s oceans more effectively. However most African countries do not have the resources to patrol their waters affectively. More established countries take advantage of this and steal their resources, resources needed to feed people. They taking from the mouths that need it most because they’ve destroyed their own fish stocks.

Al Jazeera did an in-depth investigation into pirate fishing and you can see the proof in the documentary.


What this all means in plain English is that in the very near future, the fishing industry will collapse. The means thousands loosing their livelihoods and the millions who rely on this important protein source going hungry.

But we don’t have to wait to see the result of this overfishing in African waters, it’s already taking it’s toll.

Greenpeace say,

“Small-scale fishermen were once able to easily catch enough to feed their families and sell extra at local markets. These days they are forced to extremes to feed their families, often risking their lives to make the smallest of catches.”

It’s in our hands to change this. Here are some ways you can easily make a difference

Further reading:

Published by Brendan

Brendan Piater is the founder of Arctic Online, a successful website design studio, Internet technologies expert, passionate conservationist, open source and free culture enthusiast, entrepreneur, expert spear-fisherman, ex-pineapple farmer and a rather good mackerel fisherman.

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