Fishy business

I missed this when it came out a couple of days ago, but a study by Daniel Pauly at the University of British Columbia shows how small-scale fishers1 are short changed by “well-intentioned eco-labelling initiatives and ill-conceived fuel subsidies”. I’d expect no less from Pauly, who has always been a champion of artisanal fisheries. Industrial fishermen2 receive 200 times higher fuel subsidies than artisanal fishers, who also discard far less fish as waste. Campaigns to persuade shoppers to buy eco-friendly fish have not paid off either, according to Pauly.

“For the amount of resources invested, we haven’t seen significant decrease in demand for species for which the global stocks are on the edge of collapse,” says Pauly. “Market-based initiatives, while well-intentioned, unduly discriminate against small scale fishers for their lack of resources to provide data for certification.”

Fish really does represent the ethical frontier of food. Farmed pollutes and wild destroys the stocks. What’s a piscivorous person to do? Get rid of the subsidies, say Pauly and his colleagues. Without subsidies, large-scale fisheries would not survive, small fishers would thrive supplying local markets, and global fish stocks would have an opportunity to rebound.

So we can overfish them again?

  1. Don’t blame me; that’s the acceptable gender-neutral term. []
  2. Yes, industrial giants are gender-specific. []

2 Replies to “Fishy business”

  1. Artisanal fishers? I’m sorry, but the use of “Artisan” is going too far these days with regard to food, it is practically meaningless. Remember when Artisan meant that it was independent and kind of crappy? Now Artisan has been bougified (Adjective of a slang term for Bourgeois) and is being used to mean something upscale. How about “small fishers” or “small fishing operations,” which is more descriptive?

  2. I’m not certain, of course, but I believe some of the artisanal fishers might be quite tall.

    Seriously, I don’t have a problem with artisanal in this context. For me, it carries meanings of skilled, manual labour, which about sums it up. That it has been hijacked elsewhere along the food chain is a different issue. But I do know what you mean …

    And no, I don’t myself remember Artisan meaning independent and kind of crappy. Never meant that here, for me.

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