Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Friday, November 23, 2007

The piece of cod which passeth all understanding

EU quotas for cod caught by British fishermen in the North Sea have been much in the news this week. The disclosure that each week our prawn fishermen dump 60% of their catches back into the sea (dead, of course) because they are illegally-caught cod has been described as "obscene" by the EU Fisheries Commissioner, and rightly so. According to Jonathan Shaw, the UK Fisheries Minister, this shows that we need to increase the UK's cod quota so that these perfectly good fish can be landed and sold rather than being dumped. The fishermen, meanwhile, will have none of it, and insist that the whole quota system needs to be scrapped.

OK, run that past me again. There is a quota system because the over-fishing of the North Sea by (among others) the British has led to a dangerous depletion of cod stocks. The quotas are intended to reduce the killing of cod. So, OK, British fisherman are illegally killing millions of cod. Now, children, is the solution:

(a) get them to kill fewer cod?
(b) let them kill the same number of cod but pay them more money to do so?
(c) let them kill as many cod as they like until cod are are just an old person's memory?

If you answered (a), you have a working brain but clearly don't live in the crazy world of our fishing industry and its parliamentary puppets.

If you answered (b) or (c) piss off now and go and do the lottery or something more appropriate to your powers of thought, like emailing your bank details to Nigeria.

If the point of quotas is to conserve fish stocks, then the solution is to catch fewer cod. (Duh.)

But wait! say the bottom-feeders. We can't tell cod from the prawns we're trying to catch, and (wow!) they end up in the nets anyway. Hah! We win!

Well, Einstein(s), it's maybe about time our fishing fleet invested in some on-board salt water tanks like the ones they use in the Far East to bring their (smallish) catches in alive for their demanding diners. Then the illegally-netted cod could be dumped back alive and the prawns brought home. Or, they could use creels rather than nets to catch their prawns, or more modern designs of net, as suggested by the International Council for the Exploration of Species. Alternatively, our seaborne Sherlocks could try for a career more suited to their abilities, such as asking "Do you want fries with that?" when handling fish caught legally by some other country's fleet.


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