Monday, November 29, 2010

Paris - Realpolitik!


I trust you know that the western hemisphere economies are broken.
With the exception of some micro states with special circumstances and Germany that has successfully re-routed its exports to Asia, everybody else is in a terrible mess, with no real end in sight.
The bailouts amount to nothing more than kicking the can further down the road when the billions will have to be re-paid, and the clamoring for austerity and re-balancing of the budgets can really only have one immediate effect: more joblessness that may even become structural, less consumption and consequently, an even slower economic recovery.
I was in the USA when the GOP conquered congress and had to laugh at the hypocritical bipartisan pledges of no earmarks (great, but will the budget be trimmed by those amounts? Take a wild guess!) whilst the three Big deficit Gorillas, Defense, Medicaid and Medicare were studiously never mentioned.
Heed my words: whenever anybody will stand up and suggest some real cuts, some opponent will utter the magic word jobs!, and Tea Party or no Tea Party, nothing substantive will ever happen!
Wanna bet?

Politics on a conservation blog?
Thing is, conservation does not happen in a political vacuum, ever.
Like it or not, this is the current economical and above all, political backdrop and any measures where anybody can stand up and shout jobs! are bound to fail from the outset.

Take the fatally stalled US Shark finning bill and you can see where I’m coming from.
Or take Europe: Greece, now Ireland, soon Portugal and Spain, possibly Belgium and Italy: more austerity, more riots, more job losses – not to mention a weakening of European solidarity and the Euro. Did you really think that Sarkozy who barely survived a popular uprising where twenty-year-olds rioted against a pension reform that would only affect them in half a century (!) would take the political risk of pitching conservation against perceived job losses and riots by the tuna fishermen?

With that in mind, ICCAT has been a roaring success!
You can read the outcome for Sharks in this informative post by Richard and for once, I do not totally concur with his assessment that the news is equally good and bad: with the exception of Porbeagles, a tiny food (as opposed to fin) fisheries where Canada successfully shouted jobs!, most of the proposed measures did pass, albeit with some exemptions which IMO are only fair in the case of Hammerheads and rather irrelevant long term in the case of Shortfin Makos.

Leaves the only truly negative and highly disturbing outcome which is the defeat of a finning ban.
Very sad indeed but as Richard points out, several countries are trying to enact local finning bans and if so and if drafted properly, see Hawaii, that will hopefully severely curtail the possibility of offloading fins caught offshore.
Fingers crossed!

Compare that to Doha and everybody should stop pouting and instead rejoice – and bravo Sonja for setting the right tone!

Tuna? Not good!
But then again, taking into account the current economical and political backdrop and after Europe changed its position (jobs!), I expected zero and am thus both totally surprised and happy about the tiny quota reduction!

Plus, there is a secret weapon: the formidable Maria Damanaki!
I totally like her commitment to sustainable fisheries and in view of the recent brilliant investigative report (brilliant technical platform, too!) that has uncovered blatant underreporting, overfishing, poaching and widespread scams in the Mediterranean Tuna fisheries, the European Fisheries Commission has ample scope for enforcing the quotas and prosecuting the perpetrators - and by doing that, for substantially reducing the amount of Tuna that are being effectively caught!


And I have no doubt that Mrs. Damanaki will do just that, as she has already announced in admirably politically correct lingo!
And... she may have an equally formidable and totally unexpected ally: Japan(!) who wants to put an end to the illegal shenanigans - and if you don’t believe me, read the abovementioned investigative report and do your own due diligence on Google, also with regards to the reviled Mitsubishi Corporation!

You can find the list of relevant decisions here and you will notice several important and largely unreported technical measures aimed at achieving better transparency. All-in all, as Damanaki says, it’s a step in the right direction.
Yes much remains to be done – but I believe that conservation and the need for sustainable fisheries remain squarely on the table, and that’s a good thing.

So, here’s a toast to the victory for the Sharks!

Hat tip: the truly unequaled, and obviously blissfully unrepentant Elizabeth Griffin Wilson of African Elephant fame, for teaching us that "If you took those sharks (caught in the Atlantic in 2008) and lined them up, they would stretch from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles, and that's just (in) one year"
Wow!

1 comment:

Shark Diver said...

First rate, first rate, LOVE this post Mike!