COMMENT: Where the hell is Pew?

THERE’S been a deafening silence from green groups about the massive slaughter of tuna and billfish currently being planned by the federal fisheries authority.

Not one single green organisation made a submission to the Australian Fisheries Management Authority’s Total Allowable Commercial Catch process, which is set to decimate tuna, marlin and swordfish stocks from March 1. This TACC, if approved by federal Fisheries Minister Joe Ludwig later this month, will see about 125,000 marlin and tuna killed by long liners working off Australia’s east coat over the next year. Angling groups including the Game Fishing Association of Australia and the NSW Game Fishing Association did take the time to protest the environmental absurdity of planned slaughter, but the issue obviously wasn’t of interest to Australia’s eco warriors.

It seems odd that none of the conservation groups could be bothered to address this issue. After all, they make repeated claims that the world’s oceans are being rapidly denuded of fish. The plans by AFMA and the long liners (see news article HERE) look set to be pretty effective at wiping out a whole shedload of pelagic predators. What is the point of the greenies if they don’t bar up about issues like this?

Organisations like Pew have spent huge amounts of money and resources promoting the need for no fishing zones in areas like the Coral Sea. These zones, Pew says, are vital if fish stocks are to be saved. But a Coral Sea no fishing zone won’t stop long liners catching marlin and tuna. These fish are pelagics, which means they traverse the entire ocean. The only way to stop the slaughter is to band the long lines. No-fishing zones will do bugger all to protect our pelagic gamefish. They are a trendy, bandaid solution to an ongoing problem that needs much more work and commitment than the conservation groups seem prepared to give.

This could be because the commercial fishing lobby plays hardball. They eat greenies for breakfast. It’s much easier for marine conservationists to lobby for a few sanctuary zones, get hefty government payouts for the commercials to relocate somewhere else and then pat themselves on the back for “saving the oceans” than it is to attack the root cause of the problem by taking the commercials head-on.

In Fisho’s opinion, what groups like Pew should be doing is giving up on the obsession that no-fishing zones are the be all and end all of marine conservation and instead work with sportfishermen to stop destructive commercial fishing practices. This is happening in the US (see article HERE) but when we asked Pew’s local office about doing the same here they said they were focused on the Coral Sea issue and didn’t have time at present to look at any long line bans.

Meanwhile, the tuna and marlin face destruction.

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