The Costliest Catch

Rising Fuel Costs May Help Save the Oceans

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
Founder and President of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is caught in a dilemma. Our operations at sea depend upon our fueling our vessels. Unfortunately fuel prices have sky-rocketed making our wildlife conservation campaigns extremely expensive.

Our ship Steve Irwin takes 200 tons of fuel and at $1,300 a ton and still rising, that is a quarter of a million dollars. Our last campaign to Antarctica cost us over a half a million dollars in fuel costs.

The good news is that our pursuit of the Japanese whaling fleet cost the whalers over three million dollars in losses in fuel plus seventy million in losses from our obstruction of their whaling activities.

But there is more good news about rising fuel prices. A third of the Canadian sealing fleet did not venture forth to kill seal pups this year because of a combination of falling prices for seal pelts and rising prices for fuel.

And this week the best news of all: Rising fuel costs may force one third of ocean-going long-line tuna fishing boats around the world to halt operations, according to the tuna industry.

Report from the Australian Media:

"About 140 boats from Taiwan, China, South Korea, Fiji and elsewhere are already standing idle at port," said Yuichiro Harada, managing director at the Tokyo-based Organisation for the Promotion of Responsible Tuna Fisheries.

"Another 260 boats are considering suspending operations, bringing the total number to about 400 out of 1,174 boats operated by members of the organization," said Harada.

"The more you operate, the more money you lose" due to high fuel costs, he said, adding that a typical Japanese boat would lose 100,000 yen (970 dollars) in one day of long-line open-ocean fishing.

How long the boats might stay in port for could vary from region to region and depend on whether fuel prices cool, he said.

The organization groups long-line open-ocean tuna fishing boats from Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, China, Ecuador, Seychelles, Fiji and Vanuatu. Most operators of such ships worldwide are members.

Long-line open-ocean fishing mostly catches big-eye and yellowfin tunas, mainly for the Japanese market. Fishing of bluefin tuna is restricted amid fears of extinction.

The halt is bound to cause a supply shortage in raw tuna meat used for Japan's beloved "sashimi" slices, the organization warned.

While regretting the looming supply shortage, Harada blamed speculative investment for pushing up oil prices.

"It is a very big problem for the food industry that it is affected by speculation," he said.

-         End of Media Report

Rising fuel prices are affecting the operations of fishing, sealing and whaling operations around the world. This is very good news. Our oceans are in extreme jeopardy and this industrialized rape of the seas will only be ended when it is no longer profitable to plunder the diminishing populations of marine species.

I admit that the rising fuel prices will make operating Sea Shepherd campaigns more expensive but this is offset by the impact that rising prices will have in discouraging marine exploitation. These rising prices are working for us.

Rising fuel prices will translate into higher costs for fish and that will have the affect of discouraging the consumption of fish. It will be especially expensive for the long range fleets that plunder tuna, and Patagonia toothfish (Chilean sea bass).

The deadliest catch has become the costliest catch.

"The era of cheap fish has ended," said Sea Shepherd Executive Director Kim McCoy. "The world is now seeing the consequences of years of unsustainable industrialized fishing operations and a combination of scarcity and rising costs for exploitation may do more to save the oceans than all of the world's conservation efforts to date."

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society officially discourages the consumption of fish for conservation reasons.

There is no longer such a thing as "sustainable" fishing. 90% of the world's commercial fisheries have already collapsed. A century of massive industrialized fishing using hundred mile drift nets and longlines, huge seine nets and destructive bottom draggers has laid the ocean bare. There is simply not enough fish in the oceans to continue feeding the billions of human beings. Eating fish is today as deadly to the world's oceans as DDT was once to the health of birds. You cannot be a marine conservationist or an environmentalist and eat fish. It is a blatant contradiction.

When people request a sustainable fish card from Sea Shepherd our answer is that we do not distribute such cards because there is no such thing as sustainable commercial fishing.

Not only are fish populations diminishing but fish is not a healthy source of protein due to high concentrations of mercury, PCB's and other chemicals and heavy metals that industry spews into the sea constantly. Eating fish from the sea is like scooping turds out of a toilet bowel because we have turned our oceans into humanity's collective septic tank.

More than half the fish from the sea is fed to livestock making the meat industry a major contributor to the destruction of the ocean and of course passing the mercury and other chemicals into the flesh of factory farmed animals.

We have made the pig and the chicken the largest marine predators on the planet. Pigs eat more fish in the form of fishmeal than all the world's sharks combined. Chickens eat more fish than all the world's puffins. In fact puffins are starving in the North Sea because of Danish fishing boats stealing the sand eels from the puffins to grind into fishmeal to feed factory farmed chickens in Denmark.

Jesus Christ honoured fishermen by making Peter and James "fishers of men" and he may have fed the Captain Highlinermasses with only a couple of fish but the masses of humanity can no longer be fed with the fish that are left and fishermen may well be the agents of our demise if they destroy the fish.

As it is now, the occupation of fisherman is one of the most environmentally destructive careers on the planet. The heavily subsidized fishing industry may well be the engine of our collective destruction on planet earth. If we kill the fish we kill the oceans and if we kill the oceans we destroy ourselves.

It's time to end our trust in Captain Highliner!.

Fishermen may very well be responsible for the destruction of humanity and civilization.

Note: Captain Paul Watson was raised in the New Brunswick fishing community of St. Andrew's By the Sea where the poor kids were the ones who went to school with lobster sandwiches. "I was raised with fishermen. I know them and I've seen them at work and I was not impressed. I found them in general to be ignorant, arrogant and completely dismissive of conservation efforts and apathetic about the health of the oceans. They have only themselves to blame for the collapse of the industry. It was their greed, their apathy and their ignorance that destroyed their own industry and that is why I have no sympathy for them when they whine for subsidies which in any other social arena would be derogatively referred to as welfare."