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Dawnwatch – ocean and over fishing

May 1, 2017 Leave a comment

I am sorry to bring you two sorrowful stories from the Sunday, April 30, New York Times, but glad they made major media, one on the front page, so that we have an opportunity to respond as voices for animals. We read of the oceans being depleted by overfishing, and of a plan in Texas to use Warfarin to poison wild pigs. 
The front page story, by Andrew Jacobs, is titled, “China’s Appetite Pushes Fish Stocks to Brink.” 

It tells us:

“Overfishing is depleting oceans across the globe, with 90 percent of the world’s fisheries fully exploited or facing collapse, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization….

“But China, with its enormous population, growing wealth to buy seafood and the world’s largest fleet of deep-sea fishing vessels, is having an outsize impact on the globe’s oceans.

“Having depleted the seas close to home, Chinese fishermen are sailing farther to exploit the waters of other countries… West Africa, experts say, now provides the vast majority of the fish caught by China’s distant-water fleet…

“In Senegal, an impoverished nation of 14 million, fishing stocks are plummeting. Local fishermen working out of hand-hewn canoes compete with megatrawlers whose mile-long nets sweep up virtually every living thing. Most of the fish they catch is sent abroad, with a lot ending up as fishmeal fodder for chicken and pigs in the United States and Europe.”

It is not only the oceans that are being affected:

“Unable to live off the sea, desperate fishermen have been burning protected coastal jungle to make way for rice fields. But heavy rain often washes away the topsoil, environmentalists say, rendering the steep land useless.”

And while the article focuses on the impact of China, the deputy general director of the Bureau of Fisheries in Beijing, says that criticism of China’s fishing practices is exaggerated, and that, “Chinese vessels traveling to Africa were simply responding to the demand for seafood from developed countries, which have been reducing their own fleets.” He repeats a question he is asked:

“If China doesn’t fish, where would Americans get their fish to eat?” 

You’ll find the full article on line at http://tinyurl.com/lcsuxr9 

I send thanks, as I so often do, to Bruce Friedrich of the wonderful Good Food Institute for making sure we saw it. (Bruce is definitely earning the seat he holds the DawnWatch board!)

Page four of the Sunday Review section brings us the headline, “A Plan to Poison the Wild Hogs of Texas.”

Journalist Kate Murphy tells us that Texas has a feral hog population of 2.5 million, and that the pigs “cause an estimated $52 million a year in damage as the bristly backed hooligans smash through fences, decimate crops, eat baby livestock, dig up internet and water lines, ruin golf courses and cause car accidents when they dart across the road. They also carry diseases that have the potential to devastate cattle and domesticated pig operations, as well as infect humans.”

We learn that the state’s agriculture commissioner, Sid Miller, “wants to use chemical warfare to bring about what he calls the ‘feral hog apocalypse.’

She continues:

“The poison? Warfarin (a.k.a. Coumadin), the most commonly prescribed anticoagulant, or blood thinner, for humans.”

Hunters, environmentalists, and animal welfare advocates are all against the proposition. Hunters fear they will not be able to eat or sell meat from wild hogs who may be poisoned with Warfarin. Environmentalists note that animals besides pigs can access the Warfarin dispensers, with “video of a black bear ripping into the device recently caused Louisiana officials to halt plans to follow Texas’ lead ….” 

As for animal welfare, we read:

“According to Jim Hone, an emeritus professor of wildlife management at the University of Canberra in Australia who participated in that research, animal welfare concerns led them to stop using Warfarin. ‘It took on average seven to 10 days for the animals to die,’ suffering all the while from internal bleeding, he said. ‘It didn’t seem humane.'”

Yet, “Warfarin is still used in Australia as a rat poison, just as it is in the United States…”

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