Home' Ausmarine : August 2009 Contents As a kid, Saturday was my scheduled day to be frightened. It
cost sixpence or a shilling and, for these not inconsiderable
sums (plus a bit more for an ice-cream) from the sweets seller
in the aisle at interval we could revel in the eagerly awaited
Saturday fear, generated by movies called "The Thing", "The
Blob", or "The March of the Zombies". Our Saturday horror
would be expanded upon in the telling and was generally good
for about a week.
Those of us blessed with liberal parents gained status and the
envy of our less fortunate Catholic or Orange Lodge protestant
peers. Their scheduled day of fear was Sunday. Putting your pocket
money in the plate for a dose of guilt from a steely-eyed priest, or
fire and brimstone from a foaming at the mouth evangelist, was no
match for a good zombie yarn.
As we got older the zombies lost credibility and the
sophistication of the fears improved. The scare schedule, though,
was a little less predictable. Nuclear war, the yellow hordes to our
north and, for us enlisted recruits, the venereal disease lectures
prior to our first leave. Unfortunately, the latter dire warning did
not prevent some casualties. But, I am happy to say that apart from
a couple of slow learners most of us went on to be useful, if
somewhat anatomically traumatised citizens.
Having passed the allotted span of three score years and ten,
and therefore well and truly out of warranty, I now tend to be a
trifle sceptical of computer model generated fears and calamities,
particularly when seized upon and whipped to a frenzy by the
media. With the exception of the aforementioned slow learners,
not too many of our earlier fears were realised. That includes
destruction of the Reef by global cooling, crown of thorns, running
out of oil by 2000, the Y2k bug and earth being struck by a
wayward meteor. I even seem to have suffered no ill effect from
GM chickens or crops.
The very latest fear, launched with the usual accompaniment of
dire consequences and alarums concerns a global jelly fish
invasion. It produced an instant flash back of my days in the front
stalls, cowering in my seat as "The Thing" or "The Alien Blob"
hovered over our buxom heroine.
This time, the tension was craftily built by reference to an
exponential build up, a world plague of huge proportions and
hazards to shipping. The thought of tankers, cruise or container
ships grinding to halt mid-ocean was bad enough. But wait!
There's more! Fishing fleets were tying up, tourist destinations
were sliding into bankruptcy and (Ye Gods!) a South American
sail-boarder had to be rescued from the clutches of a band of these
gelatinous marauders. Oh! The horror of it -- definitely a good
sixpence or shilling's worth.
Keeping a cautious eye on the banks of the Cooks River 200
metres away, I cast my mind back as to how many of these jelly
fish plagues I could recall over the last three score years and ten. As
it happens, quite a few. One of them on the New South Wales
central coast during the '50s, somewhat painfully. If my memory
serves, I seem to also recall my brother lodging a complaint or two
when he trawled prawns on the Hawkesbury River. One year they
seemed so abundant in Burrill Lake on the New South Wales South
Coast that I thought there might be a quid in processing them. In
fact, during the '80s, Sydney diver Rex Buckley and some blokes
from New South Wales Uni produced a trial batch which,
according to my wife, was every bit as good as what was in the
The finished product is protein rich, and while I can't
remember the price it was bringing, the tonnage sold through
Japan's Tsukiji Market alone was pretty impressive. Not all species
are edible, or of commercial value, of course. And one of the
obstacles to profitably processing those which were trailed in New
South Wales was their small bell size. If, as the research is
suggesting, the latest "plague" is of bigger animals, there may be a
I am guessing that not too many of you have fronted up to a
feed of jelly fish. Let me quell your misgivings. They are not slimy.
Served shredded as cold noodles with salad they are pretty darn
good. If there is a quid to be made, the giant jellyfish we are being
warned of may have more to fear from us and the protein starved
masses than we have to fear from them. You may recall, there
were, from time to time, the likes of rabbit plagues here in Oz.
Akubra hats and the millinery trade seemed to do quite well during
such times. It's the old maxim. One man's problem is another
"Where's the voice, however soft, one would hear so
-- Keats 1795-1821
It's surely to our international shame that at the time of writing
we are still without a single national voice for our industry. Even
more so since the UN has recently granted Australia stewardship of
a couple of million square kilometres of Southern Ocean. With a
marine territory of one and half times the size of our landmass, it
seems ludicrous that fishing can't scratch together enough cash
and commitment to fund an independent national voice.
Wollongong University's Sam Bateman on the ABC Background
Briefing programme voiced an opinion as to why Australians seem
to care so little for their maritime assets and history. It is cultural,
he said. We have been brought up to believe that all our wealth
and achievements are land-related. Interestingly, that's exactly
what we said at the 1997 Asia Pacific Fishing Conference.
Twelve years on and nothing's changed. Yes, the territory has
got bigger, but the available fishing area hasn't. Nor has the
commitment to research (still less than Bolivia's). As pointed out to
the ABC's Di Martin, we have one twenty-seven year old research
vessel. Canada, with a roughly similar area to exploit and explore,
has seventeen research vessels. What's almost as bad, we don't
even have a national industry voice to tell people about it. Of
course government may provide us a voice. If industry accepts,
guess whose hand will control the volume.
"Hunger is the best sauce
in the world" -- Miguel Cervantes
A personal comment from Ulladulla's very own
Barry McRoberts on Management Matters.
August 2009 AUSMARINE
Links Archive July 2009 September 2009 Navigation Previous Page Next Page