There are conflicting reports about the state of our oceans and waterways. Some say that fish stocks are seriously dwindling and others that there are plenty of fish in the ocean. Environmentalists tend, generally, to play the crisis card again and again. Green groups cry out about the disappearance of Orange Roughy stocks and many other aquatic species being in immanent peril. Commercial fishermen declare that fishing is their livelihood and that special consideration should be given to their requirements. Recreational fishing associations are also quite vocal about their rights when it comes to casting a line in the sea. Government agencies are often caught in the middle, attempting to find that fine line that stalks the shoals of compromise.
Dwindling Fish Stocks or Plenty in the Ocean?
Who do we, as Joe Public, believe? All of these sections of society have vested interests in the outcome of any debate about the future of fishing and fish stocks. I should have also mentioned the scientists, who are often employed by the government agencies responsible for managing territorial waters and their aquatic stocks. The marine scientists would say that it is their science that measures the true state of global fishing stocks and the health of waterways.
One of the strongest, and in some ways unspoken, arguments underpinning the debate about fishing, is the traditional right of humans to fish the seas for their food and profit. Even recreational fishermen feel that they should be able to go out and hook a catch of fish to feed their families when they want to. It was something their fathers and grandfathers had always done. This archetypal fisherman still exists in the minds of many human beings.
Up against this emotive and instinctive argument is the scientific evidence of over-fishing in our oceans. The huge commercial trawlers that scoop up tonnes of fish from the sea floors and net everything they possibly can. For many recreational fishing people, this is not fishing, it is more like mining the sea. Environmental groups abhor these large commercial concerns and feel that they are raping and pillaging our oceans. In some ways it is like these operators have been given free bookmaker bets on the race to empty our oceans of fish.
A seafood diet is considered a healthy diet, with all that Omega 3 essential fatty acid content. Fresh seafood is relatively expensive to buy in most Western cities. There is, however, a prevalence of cheaper seafood sourced from Asia and Africa, which may be the results of third world production costs or something worse. There is no doubt that our seas need careful monitoring by impartial government bodies and their international equivalents, if we are to continue enjoying the sport and fruits of our oceans and waterways.