Keep On For Future
  |  First Published: February 2012

On the way into work this morning I was thinking about this time last year when the Queensland floods stretched over half its landmass and left its population devastated.

What I really remember most was listening to the Queensland Premier Anna Bligh during her plucky speech to the people of Queensland. I believe it will go down as one of those key note moments that will be replayed time and time again as she so eloquently voiced her pride in her territory; while she dug down into her own strength of character to offer Queenslanders something to hang onto at a real tough time.

Not wanting to get into the politics I think everyone can look back at that time and respect her for her mettle, and her parochialism. And that’s the nub of what really grabbed me this morning, it got me wondering about ways we can get that same kind of spirit going amongst recreational fishers, and even those that don’t fish. I love fishing, like I imagine everyone reading this article does, and I want to be able to do it until my dying days.

The first real impact of commercial over fishing has been seen in New Zealand in recent years with the disappearance of the yellowfin tuna. We’ve heard about the North Atlantic cod and bluefin tuna but are we now seeing the canary effect here in New Zealand? There are a number of events that have had to be renamed because ‘yellowfin’ no longer has any relevance in a competition name.

But the ocean is a big place and what chance do we, the hard working men and women, have at making any real change? Well think about it from your own buying habits. If the petrol is too dear at Shell you drive to BP and if they’re too dear you drive onto Caltex. Mr Shell and Mrs BP wake up and drop their prices. If the Watties Baked Beans are cheaper than the Oak ones you buy those. So if you want to see YOUR ocean in the best possible health it can be then you’ve got to hit the commercial fleet where it really hurts – their pockets. Don’t buy anything that comes from the commercial fleet and that includes canned fish (particularly tuna), fresh fish, shellfish, crustaceans etc unless guaranteed that it has been sustainably harvested. There are some really good operators in the commercial fleet that follow the rules and work bloody hard to scratch out a living but it’s not the operators in question here, it’s the flawed systems and the all but non-existent policing.

Most countries have a 1:4 ratio of fishos vs non-fishos. So if 25% of the population stopped buying anything that is commercially harvested from the ocean then someone’s going to start squeaking. There will also be non-fishers that see that action and join in, so all of a sudden your efforts, as one individual person, starts having very real and far reaching effects.

We are all busy people and taking to the picket line or lobbying government is outside of what we can realistically invest in our oceans’ future. But there are good groups out there, in both countries that do this on our behalf, so make sure you’re supporting them when you can. These guys give us a voice at a table that we normally can’t afford to sit at and they stick it to a group of corporate’s that do liquid lunches better than any of us.

So if I can offer any message for 2012 it would be to go fishing more. It’s the best way to get the people that care the most about the resource in the right place, and it means that you’re not supporting the commercial fleet in any way. Your friends who taste what real fish is supposed to taste like will be encouraged to seek out their own fresh seafood and thus there’s one more person whose not supporting the killing machine. Do your bit by your own actions, and you will attract followers.

Keep ‘em tight.

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