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Subject: Re: Deep Threats for High Seas
From: "Shotton, Ross (FIRM)" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Scientific forum on fish and fisheries <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 10 Aug 2006 09:29:55 +0200

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Although I note the this thread gets persistently titled "Deep Threats for
High Seas" I see the discussion veering very much to the shelf area.

I too read Sylvia Earle's note with slack jaw though I must confess to being
sufficiently un-PC that I had to go to the web to see who she was.  I guess I
should have looked at who the author was of those articles in the outdated
National Geographic's I read while waiting in my dentist's office.  I read,
to my embarrassment, that she has received 11 honorary degrees!  (10 of them
from U.S. marine institutions I have never heard of - so that should qualify
what I say).  I do wonder if Earle has ever been on any deepwater fishing
trawlers or is just writing, in a fine scientic tradition, from hearsay?

One point that is never raised by the "Marine Scientists" discussing this
issue is that the effects of deepwater trawling varies considerably depending
on the fishery, i.e. North Atlantic, SE Pacific and I wish that these "Marine
Scientists" would move beyond generalities.  In one area of particular
personal interest - the Southern Indian Ocean, estimates of the area, say
<2000m, that have been trawled are << 1%.  The nature of the seamounts there
are very different to, say, those of the SW Tasman and cannot be trawled over
"In an action akin to bulldozing forests".  (I wonder if these protagonists
are ever going to get over the "bulldozer" analogy, not least because
trawlers tow, rather than push, nets.).  If vessels did tow of such
seamounts, there is a high chance that the vessels would loose their gear - a
serious operatioinal issue given that they cost > $100,000 to replace.  Coral
in the catch also damages the fish - many species of which mature at, and
grow to, ages not dissimilar to shelf species.  Thus the last thing these
skippers want to do is drag their trawl over seamounts.

Absolutely, trawls can take bycatch and when there are significant amounts of
corals in this bycatch this is a serious issue.  But, perhaps Jeff Kaufman
could get out on a trawler and measure the amounts of corals that are being
taken so that he/we have some facts (i.e. measurements of coral bycatch) on
which I assume (but have not seen this demonstrated) that the sort of twaddle
Earle is writing, can be evaluated.  Is every piece of coral sacred?

R. Shotton

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