Home' Ausmarine : February 2011 Contents Deciding "just how tragic a tragedy is" is a specialist's job.
There is a popular, but misguided, belief that death is the great
leveller, that all lives are valued and the death of one
diminishes us all.
A visit to a media newsroom or Murdoch sub-editor's desk
will soon put paid to that. Naturally enough, your value to your
next of kin may rank pretty high. Your continued existence may
even be of some importance to your bank and unsecured
creditors. For the media, however, your occupation and the
manner of your departure from day to day activities will decide
your news worthiness.
December's events in New Zealand offer a fairly good
illustration. The grievous loss of 29 lives in a mine explosion
captured the support and concern of not only the New Zealand
public, but nations near and far. As the possibility of a rescue
withered the mourning commenced, questions were asked, and, in
short, the media focus never wavered. Even toward the end of
December they were squeezing the last drops from the story,
reporting on the mine owner's decision to call in the receivers.
Meanwhile, in waters south of New Zealand, a high seas fishing
boat went down. Seventeen South Korean fishermen were lost in
what must have been dreadful and terrifying circumstances. The
story ranked number three on the TV news I was watching. By next
day it barely rated a mention. Getting details of any search and
rescue effort, for those from the fishing fraternity, (particularly the
Korean community) was like finding charity from your bank.
Somewhere, out of sight of our regional media, are the grief
stricken families of 17 fishermen. They are probably too
overwhelmed to be asking why the loss of their loved ones in such
horrific circumstances is worthy of so little media concern. Is it
that fishermen are of less value than racing yachtsmen, victims of
crime or yes, even mine workers. In the monsoon season, around
the Indian subcontinent, I guess fishermen already know the
answer to that.
"Stuck fast on slow fishing"
It is a pretty sure sign of a fallacious argument when the volume
and pitch on one side increases. Some hysteria, recently
encountered, concerned the trawl effort around sea mounts and
the claimed environmental rape and pillage carried out by deep
water operators in our southern waters.
Some activists seem incapable of recognising that "roughy" and
mid water trawling does not put nets on the bottom and getting
fast on coral is very expensive. With upwards of $150,000 worth of
gear out, even the temporary loss and repair bill from getting fast
can ruin your trip. Total loss can ruin a season. As for bottom
trawling, I recall the late Neil Kelly of Eden showing me a map of
the trawlable ground in New South Wales waters. In percentage
terms it was infinitesimal. The ground lost to pollution, though,
was no laughing matter, and unlike hard worked trawl ground, no
recovery of productivity was foreseeable.
When activists abandon good manners and resort to
name calling you can be sure they are covering up a soft
spot in their platform. Survey and research results are trotted out
minus information as to who the sponsors were, or whether
grants were secured on the basis of a unilaterally declared threat.
Tailoring modelling to fit survey results is not unheard of, nor is
confining survey areas to suit a desired outcome. I quite recently
heard of two diametrically opposed recommendations for
management of a fishery. One from state research and the other
For me, the most distressing thing to have to listen to, is
fishermen dumping on one another's method. Be it trap, line, or
trawl, it's not hard to criticise the other bloke's choice. To do it,
though, outside industry-convened forums is simply playing into
the hands of the anti-commercial lobby. The New South Wales
experience was a classic. First the bottom set meshers, then the
trappers, Botany Bay and Georges River and so it went on. Hook
and line blokes are not exempt, as those who remember the
auto-liner issue will verify. The case currently being tried on
against the hook-and-line blokes is that they can put the line in
what was once unfishable ground. Fish sanctuaries, if you like.
The ultimate goal of the anti-pro is to stop you fishing at all.
Regardless of your method, even if you whistle them up with FADs,
they want you gone. Sledging one another is helping them no end.
Hush little research, don't you cry, you'll be disproved,
bye and bye.
It must be distressing for people from the Pew Institute, Sea
Shepherd and other grant dependant usurpers of authority reliant
on forecasts of doom -- cod stocks are becoming embarrassingly
abundant. Cod was once very popular with slave owners, being a
fair bit cheaper than pork. Mr Wilberforce effectively spiked that
market. Britain, the home of deep fried everything, was a staunch
consumer at one time. In the '70s, while working in Glasgow, I
contributed by regularly lining up at the chippie for a carry-out of
chips, pickled onion, and a piece of haddock or cod. At home in
Clyde Bank, as relief from 'Mince and tatties', it was Captain
Birdseye fish fingers.
Lately the Brits have stopped buying cod and haddock, leading
to a complaint from Norway and other producers that the market
is not keeping up with the rapid build up of fish stocks. The
answer, of course, is obvious. We should immediately re-introduce
slavery. A quick trawl though the ranks of certain NGOs would
provide a host of start-up stock from those who need to know the
difference between work and seminar attendance. The IMF, World
Bank, EU and UN would provide a wealth of fat cats who badly
need thinning down. And finally, slavery would greatly improve
the working conditions of some third world fishermen.
Media friendly tragedies
A personal comment from Ulladulla's very own
Barry McRoberts on Management Matters.
February 2011 AUSMARINE
Links Archive January 2011 March 2011 Navigation Previous Page Next Page