Da Legal Stuff...

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Canada Turns a Blind Eye to Protecting Our Oceans

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans recently released a report entitled, “Impacts of Trawl Gears and Scallop Dredges on Benthic Habitats, Populations and Communities". This report clearly shows the horrific impact of bottom dragging on fish habitats.

In the report it is identified that, “…measures to reduce impacts of mobile bottom-contacting gears requires case specific analysis and planning. There are no universally appropriate fixes…”.

Sorry folks, but you are wrong again as usual. There is indeed a universally appropriate fix. Legislate a complete ban on all bottom dragging gear .

It really is that simple. Dragging destroys fish habitat completely and utterly. According to your own report, “…Recovery time from perturbation by mobile bottom-contacting gears can take from days to centuries, and for physical features and some specialized biogenic features recovery may not be possible”

For those who have doubts about how critical this issue is read on. Here are a few more extremely disturbing excerpts from the DFO report.

“…gears can damage or reduce habitat complexity.”

“…can decrease the abundance of long lived species.”

“…affect populations of structurally fragile species more often…”

“When areas are impacted repeatedly over several years, the increased presence of scavengers in the community can become a persistent feature…”

Hell, what more do you need to know. How long will it take for the government of Canada to do what needs to be done about bottom dragging? What will it take before they step up and start protecting our oceans as well as the livelihoods of those who depend it for a living?

Once the bottom has been destroyed and the habitat is no longer able to sustain life, what happens to those who work in the fisheries and worse yet, what happens to the ecological balance on this small planet we all live on? You only have to ask a Newfoundland fishermen how he has been impacted by low cod stocks to understand the former, the impact of the latter remains to be seen.

For anyone who has ever seen video of dragger gear moving across the ocean floor there is no question that this complete and utter destruction must be stopped at once. It is amazing to note that in areas like the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and Labrador, an area where cod fish have become an almost endangered species, bottom trawling is still allowed by the Canadian government and is done regularly and often illegally by foreign fishing vessels.

As a part of the report produced by DFO to address the issue there is an examination of potential ways to mediate impacts. This should not even be open for discussion as no mediation is required. The only action that will work is a complete ban on what amounts to an attack on all ocean life.

To put it in perspective, the process of bottom dragging on the ocean floor it is reminiscent of a back alley abortion using a wire coat hanger. The activity is totally indiscriminant and after the dragger moves through the area there is nothing left behind but debris and total destruction.
All of which is permitted by the Canadian government.


Anonymous said...

Patriot you said...."Hell, what more do you need to know. How long will it take for the government of Canada to do what needs to be done about bottom dragging? What will it take before they step up and start protecting our oceans as well as the livelihoods of those who depend it for a living"?

Patriot - To answer your question -the time most likely will be when there is not one fish left to be caught in the waters of which you speak and then, of course, international trade and foreign affairs clout for Canada will have shifted from Canada's shores to the shores of some other nation. But what good will it do for Canada to intervene then, when there are no fish left to reproduce? The goose that was laying the golden eggs for Canada for so long, the waters of Newfoundland and Labradors shore which included the prolific Grand Banks of Newfoundland, will then be pronounced as dead as the Dodo Bird.

NL-ExPatriate said...

Not only will Canada not sign onto the UN call for a ban deep sea Bottom Dragging but they are actually fighting to continue with this indiscriminant destructive practice. Which is carried out on our continental shelf even though continental shelfs aren't considered to be the deep sea. because the 200 mile limit only encompasses 60% of our continental shelf leaving the Nose, Tail, Flemish cap, rise and slope 40% of the Grand Banks outside and subject to this gross abuse of the environment our environment which we are stewards of even if it lies outside the 200 mile limit we have an obligation to protect it being the adjacent state it behooves us to speak up and make our elected representatives accountable to our wishes.

There is even a clause in the UNCLOS which allows for the adjacent state to apply to extend it's jusisdiction out past the arbitrary 200 mile EEZ if their continental shelf rise and slope extends out past that arbitrary line in the water or if their continental shelf is being adversly affected by destructive and indiscriminant fishing practices.

To my mind it isn't so much the leading edge of these trawls/Drags that do all the damage but once that net becomes filled with coral, fish, turtles, etc and weighs in at thousands of pounds that is being dragged across the bottom thit also adds to the damage to an ultra sensitive ecosystem and turnes it into a wasteland. Not to mention the weights wings that leave trenches goughed out of the bottom.

Watch for yourself there are some videos amongst these links.


WJM said...

Given the vehemence with which Newfoundland fishermen opposed closing off the Hawke Channel, the major breeding ground for the Labrador snow crab fishery, to their destructive and damaging, I'm willing to venture that they are also part of the opposition to banning this type of trawl as well.

Anonymous said...