There were strong reactions to my footage of sharks being offloaded by fishermen in South Africa (that video can be found at the bottom of this post) and it made me wonder about the things we choose to accept and the things we choose to condemn, because that footage doesn't hold a candle to fishing I've seen in the United States. And sadly, I know I haven't witnessed anything close to the true horror of industrial fishing.
But to watch dumpsters full of dead sharks unloaded nonstop for an hour from a boat that we consider "small"...an operation we refer to as "small scale"...a practice with the label "sustainable"...is a chance to ask if we are honest with ourselves at all and how willing we are to look the other way rather than consider changing.
Consider how many games and distractions we are offered to focus on rather than considering the only solution that is guaranteed to actually help.
"Make sure you are buying from a sustainable source."
As if any of us knows how to investigate that other than taking the distributor for their word. As if 'sustainable' isn't a shockingly abused term that has no real meaning in the first place. Instead of playing that game we COULD just stop consuming any potential product of the destructive industry. But we won't.
"Cutting edge research is looking into ways to reduce by-catch".
Great, someone is doing research, so I guess we can go back to our usual destructive behavior. OR we could just stop consuming products that support the destruction of our oceans. But we won't.
"New research attempts to reduce fishing debris entanglements."
OR we could stop contributing to the industry.
"New research will try to limit fishing vessels during certain times of the year"
(even as more fishing licenses are sold to other countries to rape the ocean). OR we could stop participating in the destruction.
"New regulations attempted for super trawlers"
Super trawler shouldn't exist. Period.
"A shark fin ban will undermine the shark fishing industry" (even as shark populations slip toward extinction globally). Yes, that's an actual argument from a 'shark scientist' employed by the department of commerce. Good ol' David Shiffman.
The list could continue as long as I was willing to retype all the different headlines out there that enable us to keep eating from our depleted ocean while feeling better about it. The lesson here is that would rather listen to these things than give up something we enjoy. The bottom line is that we aren't willing to give up something we don't even require for the sake of the ocean's future. That says everything anyone ever needed to know about why the planet is doomed.
The answer to our salvation won't be found in a peer-reviewed scientific paper unless that paper reveals the cure for human selfishness and greed.
Stop playing the consumer game and start being part of the solution. As the New York times was bold enough to recently state, "The only way to save the ocean is to stop eating fish".
#fish #fishing #sharkfishing #bycatch #sustainable #sustainablefishing #capecod #chatham #ocean #oceanrape #oceanhealth #overfishing #smallscale #shiffman #noaa #cites #whalestrikes #whaleentanglement
Debra Canabal of Epic Diving in the WSV hoodie. Get yours!
About the Author
Skyler Thomas is the primary blog contributor, cinematographer, and lead editor at White Shark Video.