We should be outraged by Europe slaughtering sea life in the name of ‘science’

George Monbiot wrote on his blog:

One of the popular jokes in conservation is the Japanese government’s claiming to be involved in “scientific whaling”. All the killing by its harpoon fleet holds under the guise of “research”, as this is the only clarification available, under international rules.
Fishing in with, explosives, poisons and electricity Europe is banned. But the ban is gradually being rescinded on using electricity by the commission. It started with one or two boats, then in 2010, after an aggressive lobbying by the Netherlands government, 5% of the Dutch trawler fleet was free to use this method. In 2012, the ratio was raised to 10%. Eighty-five massive Dutch supertrawlers have currently been armed with electric pulse gear, at a price of around L300,000 per ship.
According to Joji Morishita, a representing diplomat of Japan at the whaling negotiations, this “research programme” has produced 666 scientific papers. While we must respect Mr Morishita’s right to invoke the number of the Beast, which may on this occasion be appropriate, during its investigation of the Japanese killing of whales, the International Court of Justice found out that the total “research programme” had really produced only two peer-reviewed papers, which used information from the carcasses of nine whales.

Image creadit: Photograph: TIM WATTERS / SEA SHEPHERD AUSTR/EPA

We are rightly outraged by such deceptions. But while we focus our anger on a country on the other side of the world, the same trick – the mass slaughter of the creatures of the sea under the guise of “scientific research” – is now being deployed under our noses. Our own government, alongside the European commission and other member states, is perpetrating this duplicity.

Fishing in Europe with poisons, explosives and electricity is banned. But the commission has gradually been rescinding the ban on using electricity. It began with one or two boats, then in 2010, after ferocious lobbying by the government of the Netherlands, 5% of the Dutch trawler fleet was allowed to use this technique. In 2012 the proportion was raised to 10%. Eighty-five massive Dutch supertrawlers have now been equipped with electric pulse gear, at a cost of around £300,000 per ship.

Over the past few months, the UK government has licensed a further 12 ships. These are registered in the UK and fly the Union flag, which means that they are allowed to fish within our 12-mile limit, but according to some in the fishing industry at least some of the boats have been financed and equipped by Dutch companies.

Pulse trawling, as the technique is known, uses electricity to flush flatfish or shrimp out of the sediments in which they hide. The electric shock makes them convulse and flip upwards, into the net. Electric fishing can greatly increase the catch of these species.

The industry and the Dutch and British governments claim that this technique is less damaging than conventional beam trawling. That is not exactly a high bar. If they needed to market influenza, they would doubtless argue that it’s better than bubonic plague.

Read the whole story on Georg Monbiot blog



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