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Fishing and Sealing Essay

I feel sad and sorry for seals, dolphins and whales - and know that their fate is due to my contribution as a consumer in the food triangle.

I'm not against the Woolworths policies but agree they need to put into perspective.

Your SA bonus point system for spear fishing competitions gives points for species which are difficult to spear and/or less likely to be threatened by spear fishermen. It also gives few points and therefore less incentive for species which are easy to spear and/or more likely to be threatened through over exploitation by spear fishermen.

Similar therefore to the Woolworths policy to reduce the impacts on species and the environment.

People need to feed and therefore we need to consider our feeding habits and the effect they have on the environment.

Recreational fishermen who utilise a little fuel on outings to capture fresh fish for their families, return with something top show for the fuel they have utilised. They utilise a natural resource in situ. They eat less meat and agricultural produce than the average consumer and are therefore not the bad guys in today's world where we are increasingly becoming aware of carbon loading and our contributions to global warming.

Wealthy restaurant patrons who eat caviar and drive 4x4 Hummers at a fuel consumption rate of 16 liters per 100 kilometers after flying half way across the globe for a holiday in the isiMangaliso Wetland reserve where recreational fishing is under threat as an activity, are probably the bad guys of this world, but do not take this from me - let people do their own research on this topic and decide for themselves.

One should consider the food triangle in managing species. If one looks after the habitat for baseline feed species, one gets a productive baseline upon which higher level species can thrive.

The first priority for all fisheries management objectives should therefore be taking care of the environment. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that fisheries around the world were more productive 50 years ago than they are today. The reason is clear and that is that the habitat was in a far better and more productive state back then.

If one were to study the productivity of fisheries one would find without any doubt that they were more productive when the habitat was not being compromised.

Fisheries authorities reduce the catch and control the predatory species in an effort to treat the symptoms of a compromised environment, as they have given up trying to address the cause.

In Australia families are paid $5000 for each child born to encourage population expansion. More people means more funding to spend on an ever increasing developments on ever decreasing natural resources. Governments are bent on empire building and more people means bigger economies, more money to spend, higher level span of control and ultimately better paid jobs for the higher level civil servants and politicians.

I don't like to categorize people as we are all guilty when it comes to our ability to long term thinking, however the people in control of this world are the worst in this area. Politicians, lawyers and accountants are all trained in short term thinking. Scientists and engineers have a longer term view but generally work for the short term thinkers of this world.

To check the senseless direction we are going in the answer is a simple one related to the apex of the food triangle, the apical species. Humans need to recognise that they are apical predators and consume far more natural resources per unit than do Great White Sharks which can be several times larger than we are.

Great White Sharks do not drive around in Hummer 4 x 4s at a fuel consumption of 16 liters per 100 kilometers, neither do they eat imported caviar in 5 star restaurants. They do not build concrete jungles - their numbers are regulated by their position at the apex of the food triangle and therefore the food source at the level beneath e.g. seals and large fish.

It was never necessary to protect the GWS as their numbers were always meant to be few due to their position at the apex of the food triangle. Dr Leonard Conpagnio was the driving force behind GWS protection in South Africa - he came to South Africa from California and made his mission in life the protection of the GWS. As with other apical predators if we look after the habitat and the feed species, the predators will look after themselves.

We kid ourselves if we think we can protect apical species at the same time as exploiting the feed species. Protecting some species in the feed triangle whilst exploiting others at different levels is a recipe for catastrophe.

To mange natural resources one has to harvest all levels of the food triangle at sustainable levels. That means that we have to harvest whales if we harvest krill, and GWSs if we harvest seals, and seals if we harvest anchovy, etc.

Similarly Fisheries and Marine Parks Authorities cannot survive if they only manage the fisheries - history has shown that they interfere with nature in ways which are unsustainable and are therefore mismanaging their areas of jurisdiction. The chief reason for this mismanagement is that they are attempting to treat the symptoms instead of the cause. They are trying to protect high level species in the food triangle without trying to reverse the effects of humans on the habitat.

We can fix the problems simply by reducing human populations over time and improving all habitat through habitat management.

Next step to reverse our steady self destructive process is to manage all species in proportion to their natural distribution by species and number according to the natural order and nich levels in the food triangle.

We have to curb our extravagancies and adapt our life styles to much lower level consumerism.

We need to utilise resources in situ. We stop importing and exporting as this is wasteful of fossil fuels and contributes to habitat destruction.

We need to rely more on species which have been specifically designed and/or adapted to survive and thrive on local habitats and conditions. We need to curb our reliance on agricultural crops such as cane and on poultry, pork, beef, mutton and other domestic animals and farm produce.

Species endemic and indigenous to regions of this world should be utilised instead of converting everything to monocultures.

We need to stop exporting hake from SA to Australia, stop the export of live coral trout from Australia to Japan, stop the export of abalone from SA, Australia, California and New Zealand to Japan.

We need to stop the export of raw minerals such as oil, minerals and timber - instead we need to establish local industries to utilise local raw materials into refined products.

International trade agreements, shipping and freighting are not encouraging lifestyle compromises which will save this planet.

Carbon trading schemes to reduce man made contributions to global warming will not work unless we also reduce human populations over time.

The same issues concerning seals and anchovies, also apply to humans and deforestation of jungles in the Amazon, Central Africa and through the tropics of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

Rgds,

Tony Heugh.

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