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Race To The Bottom


Race To The Bottom

Up until the end of the twentieth century most people thought that the oceans were a limitless resource but sometime during the 1960s we began to realise that this was not the case. Many of the world’s most important fisheries were in crisis. A situation that has only become more acute. We are struggling to find a balance between the needs of a growing human population and the health of our oceans.

In Ireland today, local fishermen are up in arms protesting against rules that allow gigantic super trawlers that can process up to 250 tons of fish per day to plunder their fish stocks.

The fish rich waters off South Africa and Mozambique are also being ransacked by giant industrial trawlers mostly originating from China. The pattern is the same in waters across the globe. Especially in countries that don’t have the resources to fight the plunder.

But in some places progress is being made.

In the USA, coastal communities have spoken out about the devastating results of industrial trawlers pulling their giant nets through shoals of spawning herring, politicians and authorities have listened. Industrial vessels are no longer given access to inshore waters and fishing quotas are balanced against the needs of sea animals including whales, seals, raptors and seabirds. In 2021 the giant industrial fishing vessels in Cape Cod and the east coast were forced out in order to protect the important herring stocks.

In Norway the collapse of herring stocks resulted in new fishing policies. Restrictive fishing quotas were introduced and herring stocks have slowly recovered. Today the fishing waters are again amongst the richest in the world but there are some new threats on the horizon.