Take care of environment to preserve fish stocks

THE melting Northern Polar ice cap has created vast foreign commercial fishing interest. No sooner does an opportunity present itself than man looks at exploitative advantages.

The Atlantic Ocean is all but fished out and so all these fleets focus on an uncovered treasure that presents an opportunity which should really be protected.

The loss of ice cover has also opened up new navigational routes to link the Far East to Europe. I am led to believe this has reduced the travel time between these continents by some two weeks. One loss is another's gain.

The loss of ice cap might have far greater consequences.

The ocean has become one huge dustbin or trash heap. There are places in the Pacific Ocean where small craft cannot sail as the debris has collected and amassed in one huge vortex, and places danger to soft hulled vessels.

It is believed this debris is mostly from the tsunamis that have plagued that region over the past few years. However no ownership and responsibility is placed on this situation to combat the collection thereof.

Puffer Hartzenberg, of Bushy Park in Port Elizabeth, has sent me a photograph of a "bird's nest" of tangled fishing line which he collected recently. These are the leftovers of anglers who just dump their frustrations on the shores of our coast.

I cannot fathom the mentality. Things like this just come back tomorrow and haunt us again.

The wildlife suffers terribly as a result of these actions. The problem is it all compounds and seeks a victim.

Speaking of environmental matters, the quest for renewable energy has resulted in seismic surveys being conducted around our coast at a time when, it being summer, there is much migration of fish, whales and other marine life. This type of exploration affects the sea life so immense harm is done.

This has already been witnessed. Sardines are not coming into the Bay, the chokka have disappeared and generally line fishing is poor.

Surely there has to be some association with the phenomena presented? What environmental impact studies were conducted before the approval for these activities was granted?

While exploration is still necessary there needs to be environmental responsibility. If it is ignored, what will be the end result?

There has also been much controversy lately about the granting of fishing rights to the small scale sector who have much expectation from the fishermen who earn their living at sea. The sustainability of this fishery is under the spotlight.

What criteria were set for the granting of these rights are questioned by many who have been excluded. The question is: how did newcomers get rights when some of the old role-players have been excluded?

The big question is: how many boats can be out fishing a stock that is under severe pressure already?