The following is an email exchange between Myself and Peter Young, Director of “The Last Ocean”. We are both focussed on how to stop fishing in the Ross Sea Region, but each have a very different approach on how to achieve that end.
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I enjoyed your film. I think you present your case clearly – no fishing because it’s the “last ocean”.
As you know I disagree with the logic;
(a) There is no logic to claiming that the world’s most pristine ocean should be the leading candidate for a moratorium on fishing which is your case. I happen to side with Daniel Pauly (as I outlined in Hook, Line and Blinkers) that wild fish harvesting has grossly overshot. The answer is to pull back fishing across the globe and most importantly in those areas where the current harvest is greatest. Saving the toothfish is 99% symbolism and 1% material to that priority. It doesn’t even qualify as a start really. That leads me to question the rationale for the whole crusade, so much effort for such a trivial gain..
Hi Gareth – thanks for the email and for coming to the film. I appreciated that. It’s good to get your position in more detail and I have responded below.
This is simply about wanting to protect an incredibly unique, natural environment in an area that is already afforded a great deal of protection – natural and political. Given the declining state of the world’s oceans – protection of the Ross Sea is not a trivial gain but a hugely important one. It would be a triumph for common sense – like the treaty itself. I would say the trivial gain is the 40 or so million the toothfish earns the different nations each year – compared to huge loss for future generations. The Ross Sea is a global treasure – like the Serengeti and it fully deserves protection.
(b) CCAMLR is about sustainable use, harvesting and associated activities. So a moratorium is not within its scope.
I accept that ccamlr is doing a good a job under those circumstances and that this is the frame that we have to work within..
I realize the ask needs to be more than asking for a halt to fishing, it needs a whole paradigm shift and we need to be offering alternative ways to benefit from the Ross Sea – I believe there are better uses than simply fishing (Stuart Prior agrees too). Selling the Ross Sea as a pristine ecosystem for the world to see and share – Tourism has potential to earn more $ than fishing and as an industry is more easy to regulate in terms of vessels. It celebrates what is special about he RS, creates awareness and ambassadors.
I’m fully aware that any change needs to happen within the CCAMLR consensus system. If NZ was to withdraw from fishing and form an alliance with US and try to convince other nations then that’s a bloody good start. We can’t do that while we are still down there fishing. Convincing other nations won’t happen overnight but it could happen – it just take political will. No nukes put us on the world stage – gave us huge kudos and contributed significantly to the Clean Green image that we have since traded on ever since. It has added hugely to our economy. The RS offers NZ a similar opportunity to show leadership in the field of conservation.
CCAMLR has incredible laws of protection that the fishery already exists under. If NZ pulled out – the worst case scenario is that other nations would continue to fish under these regulations, while we and other nations would continue to pressure them to not fish. I don’t believe it will turn into a free for all. We need to make the most of this current opportunity when MPA’s are on CCAMLR’s agenda to protect as match of the Ross Sea as we can.
In an ideal world Gareth – would you like to see an area like the Ross Sea protected? if the answer is yes, then why not give it a go?
(c) And finally the glass house problem. It seems incredibly hypocritical to be attacking CCAMLR when we come from a country that doesn’t even have a “whole of ecology” approach.
If you would like to meet up with Stuart Prior, I would be happy to introduce you to him. Stuart has respect for Greg Johansson and a broad outlook and some thoughts on other options.
This is where I would launch my attack rather than play the political game and run the risk of making things heaps worse and very fast.
All the best, Peter.
Anyway I really hope that I could wake up and you and AOA have convinced all 25 members to adopt a moratorium. I just find the tactic way too high risk because of the risk of partial success only.
All the best with the film