Home' Ausmarine : February 2011 Contents Science says
Recently a newspaper editorial suggested that many journos
have lost the plot.
Yes indeed, accurate specialist reporting does seem to have been
replaced with "the latest research suggests" plus a padding of
sensational trivia. Which is hardly surprising when you consider that
the tabloids have become nothing much more than entertainment
and political persuasion. If I know that in my own limited sphere of
knowledge that there is so much rubbish published, what is the
sum-total? Are all the people fooled on a daily basis? What brought
that up? It was the usual fisheries misinformation.
Perhaps Rob Nugent in the current Quadrant magazine has got
it right: ". . students come in knowing next to nothing, and go out
in a similar state of empty-headedness, but with a shiny new
vocabulary of ideologically correct jargon to suit all occasions."
In 1930, when I was four years old, Dad took us from Port Pirie
in South Australia to England. The Great Depression may have
had something to do with it, but anyway, when I was eighteen
the army grabbed me so that when World War Two ended I was in
the Malayan 12-year "emergency" confronting its Peoples'
Liberation Army, a Chinese-Malayan communist movement
(advised and supported by the Australian Communist Party)
which I fancy ended up owning Singapore Island and thus
obtaining what they (or China) wanted.
So what? Well, I returned to the UK to be demobilised with my
mob and well -- you know how it is -- I didn't actually see Australia
for eighteen years. In fact, I became employed by the UK Ministry of
Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food (the latter a wartime relic from a
time when three square meals a day often was a problem never
known Down Under). Let me tell you a little about it.
In the time before national territorial fishing limits were extended
during the UK-Iceland Cod War period I laboured on Grimsby's fish
docks where, of a morning, you could walk half a mile along
continuous stacks of fish landed from the trawling fleet. Between times
I did stints at our fisheries laboratory and crewed on government
research ships even as far as 75 degrees North up in the Arctic.
Then I was transferred to Fleetwood in the north west of
England; a major fishing port at that time. Our chief was a retired
naval commander, a terribly posh bloke complete with a painful
upper class accent and demeanour and to whom appearances were
everything. In my tenth year with MAFF, when a vacancy arose for
a senior position he preferred a dry-shod Oxford graduate B.Sc.
who, although very pleasant, was somewhat vapid and whom
sometimes in an unguarded moment he referred to as "my clown."
When the clown resigned I applied for the job but lost out to an
axed naval officer. Discreet enquiries revealed that government was
committed to such procedures -- something to do with boats,
perhaps -- so I quit and went fishing.
Well, I fished out of the Isle of Man which is a self-governing
Crown entity in the middle of the Irish Sea. At that time, as long
as you had your boat registered, it was open-go because there
was no fisheries administration to speak of and hardly a
regulation in sight.
Anyway, recently I contacted Manx fisheries on www.gov.im
for some info. How things have changed and what a pleasant
surprise! The director is a former fisherman and his advisory board
members are in both catching and processing, assisted by marine
biologists as required and even students from Bangor university
over in Wales. Recently a recommended temporary closure of the
Ramsey Bay scallop and queen-scallop (a smaller variety) fishery to
permit sea bed recovery was recommended and endorsed by all
concerned, including the processing sector. Which sounds
thoroughly democratic and practical.
Compare that with Australian fisheries (what's left of them),
apparently administered by career academics under obligation to
politicians labouring under a pseudo democracy, overrun by highly
emotional fascist world saviours as we trundle along the road to
economic and social ruin.
By the way, the Manx people are proud of their Celtic-Norse
history as much as confused Australians are proud of very little.
The Manx fisheries newsletter for December 2010 is headed Fish
Skeet (A look at fish). Along with the season's greetings is the
Manx Gaelic**: Bioys da dooinney as baase da eeast. Don't ask me
but doubtless you can find out on firstname.lastname@example.org
To make Admiral Fitzroy's (1805 -- 65) Storm Glass: Take two
drachms of camphor, half a drachm of saltpetre, half of sal
ammoniac, two oz of alcohol, two oz of distilled water. Fill a test
tube; cork and wax seal it.
Readings: Fernlike crystals at top = cold/stormy. Fernlike crystals
extending downwards = increasing cold. Fernlike crystals disappear
= warming. Crystals throughout the liquid = rain coming. Star
crystals falling = cold/frost. Liquid clear = fine/dry. Note, crystals
form in greatest depth on the side facing coming wind.
Don't laugh. In 1830 Fitzroy commanded the 240-tonne brig
'Beagle' surveying the Straits of Magellan; no place for a duffer.
Later he took Darwin on his famous four-year voyage around the
world. From 1843 to 1845 he was Governor of New Zealand. Later,
in London, he did time as an MP and contributed to the 1850
Mercantile Marine Act. A progressive man, Fitzroy used the new
international telegraph cable to put out weather forecasts.
For his voyages Fitzroy had -- as well as his traditional sextant
-- clockmaker Harrison's 1759 chronometer which
made an accurate daily fix (no, no that kind) quite possible.
Before Harrison's invention ships relied on ded (deduced)
reckoning and sometimes a vessel bound for Indonesia out-ran its
presumed position and hit Australia's west coast before turning
As most of you know, longitude is calculated as a matter of time
difference between noon where you are and that at London's
Greenwich Observatory, which had adopted its own position as
lying on zero degree of longitude. Interestingly, if you tune into
the permanent US Pacific radio time broadcast you will find that
Greenwich doesn't get a mention: the droning voice just
announces Co-ordinated Universal Time.
** In Manx Gaelic, dog is maudhe or moddy (in Irish maddra)
pronounced morthy or mordy. The ghostly black dog of Peel Castle is
maudhe dhoo (dog, black). Our maudhe breac (dog, spotted), actually a
German shorthaired pointer, is now 13 years old and very pleased at the
resurgence of rabbits.
Grumpy Old Bastard
February 2011 AUSMARINE
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