• January 10, 2020

We reported on Super Trawlers working off Donegal earlier last month (five in total) with a capacity of several thousand tonnes per trip. These vessels can catch and process on board up to 2/300 tonnes daily. Many of these vessels operate for Dutch conglomerates and one of these MFV Margiris (6200 tonnes) was fishing in the Channel off Cornwall last month as well.

The effect on local communities which depend on fish in these Celtic areas is marked. Small local vessels have to travel farther in search of a catch and local processors get no value from the super trawlers which process on board returning to the Netherlands to discharge or in some instances transhipment to freighters at sea so they can carry on the mechanised exploitation of fishing stocks.

Impact on our home fishing communities is economically negative and unsustainable but for other poorer communities farther afield it’s literally ‘a matter of life and death’.

The web site chinadialogueocean.net has this report on the impact of industrialised fishing on communities in the Gambia that have traditionally eked out a living fishing and processing small catches inshore. The establishment of fish meal plants by China which source vast stocks of fish offshore mean that fishermen have to go further out in open boats and often there is no catch. The impact is harsh particularly on the women on shore who buy smoke and sell the local catch to subsist. No fish means no income and consequently no food on the table.

The issue is compounded as China now has sizeable infrastructure along the coast of West Africa in Mauritania and Gambia. In addition to fish pollution there is also great pollution and sometimes the industrial trawling catches so much fish has to be dumped, It’s ironic that while poor fishermen with small boats can’t find catch they often return to beaches where rotted fish discards have washed ashore. Ironically the fish which for generations has fed people and given them an income is ground tinto meal to be used to feed farmed fish in China.

‘Chinaoceandialogue’ has an excellent video to go with this article:


Image; No food but the stench of pollution and waste.

Bernard Moffatt Assistant General Secretary Celtic League (1 December 2019)

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