Fishing the Old-Fashioned Way: A vote by the European Parliament this week could determine whether subsidies continue to support big-fleet fishing or help steer the industry toward a more sustainable future.
. . . the Union’s executive arm, the European Commission, has acknowledged that the subsidies, worth hundreds of millions of euros each year, support a fleet that is two to three times as large as is ecologically or commercially sustainable.
Gwenaël Pennarun still sets out most days from this Breton village to catch sea bass the old-fashioned way, with baited hooks. . . . “Thirty years ago I worked fewer hours. I had less equipment, less technology,” Mr. Pennarun said. “But I caught more fish.”
The New York Times: Facing Vote on European Subsidies, Fishermen Cling to Way of Life
BASS Website: Fish Fight – Fish Subsidy Vote looming . . .
Here’s a comment which sums it up and brings it closer to home:
“I knew and discussed fishing trends with fishermen (now dead) who worked pots for lobsters, crab and crawfish off west Cornwall in the 1930’s. Typically they would work 30 to 50 pots but by the 70’s they would have to work 100 to 150 pots to catch the same quantities of crustaceans. Now some vessels are working 3000 to 4000 pots!
I know fishermen who, when mono netting arrived on the scene (mid 70’s), were working 1500 to 2000 metres of netting (linear length). By the early 80’s catch rates had declined and in order to maintain viability they were working as much as 5000 to 7000 metres of netting. By the late 80’s, catches were only maintained with 10,000 to 15,000 metres aided by new hydraulic haulers specifically designed for mono netting. Eventually, some boats were/are working 30 to 40 kilometres of gear! However, there are now far less boats netting. The stocks have declined to such an extent, many chose decommissioning.
So, with tax payers subsidies, more and more gear was worked with ever improving technology – haulers, sonar and decca navigation (now GPS) – until stocks were exhausted. Then the same tax payers funded decommissioning without even appreciating that the public fishery resources which belonged to those tax payers had been decimated with their own money.
You couldn’t make it up!”