Should super trawlers be allowed to plunder fish stocks?
Globally, fish stocks are under immense pressure with subsistence fisherman and smaller licensed fishing operators struggling to keep their heads above water due to diminishing fish stocks. In light of this, Leisure Boating went in search of the facts relating to super trawlers and their effect on already over-burdened fish stocks.
WHAT IS A SUPER TRAWLER?
Well, super trawlers are fishing trawlers but built to a massive scale. The difference between a super trawler and a normal fishing boat is that a fishing boat generally targets a specific type of fish whereas a super trawler catches and kills anything that comes into the path of its massive nets. Dolphins, sharks, turtles, manta rays, sea birds and a variety of other marine animals are not spared. All the desired fish are processed and frozen immediately and the “waste” fish and sea mammals are simply dumped overboard. Not only do the incredibly large nets indiscriminately catch anything in their path, these huge nets cause massive ecological damage to marine ecosystems such as coral reef as well as depleting fish stocks to the point of extinction.
The answer to this question is a resounding yes because super trawlers are literally sucking up the last remaining fish stocks at an alarming rate. Why we say “sucking” is that the sheer scale of the nets and size of each catch within those nets weighs too much to be pulled on board. The sheer weight of the catch would squash the fish inside the nets if it was hauled onto the super trawler! This means that these super trawlers are equipped with industrial sized vacuums to suck the fish out of the nets and deposit them in the processing plant located below the decks of the super trawlers. With ‘by-catch’ numbers so high, it won’t be long before entire groups of protected marine animals are completely wiped out all together.
SUPER TRAWLER NET SIZE
The nets used by these super trawlers are often big enough to accommodate 13 jumbo jets and believe me, if the jumbo jet was a marine animal it would probably land up in the super trawler nets. Super trawlers are meant to target smaller foraging and bait fish, but due to the extent of their net size, the fact is that they indiscriminately catch everything in the water behind the trawler.
IT’S A DRAG!
There is continued controversy about the protected whale shark caught as a “by catch” in the nets of the super trawler called the Geelong Star and despite claims by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority that the shark was freed from the net, images since leaked have again raised concerns about the fate of this animal. This, among numerous other protected and endangered “by catch” species dying daily in the super trawler nets, is leading to heightened public outcry… and rightly so, as our oceans will soon be free of all fish. Both legal and illegal super trawlers have decimated West Africa’s fish stocks, all to feed Europe’s insatiable desire for seafood. To add insult to injury, these foreign-owned super trawlers then sell fish back to local fishermen who can no longer compete. The oceans of the world are being decimated by the over-fishing of super trawlers!