Today it was announced by Federal Government Environment Minister Tony Burke that the ‘super trawler’ Abel Tasman would be prevented from fishing in Australia for two years while the existing Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act is reviewed and possibly updated. This action from the government was largely due to a large public outcry against the 142m-long vessel which had recently visited my home state of Tasmania and is currently moored in Port Lincoln, South Australia, home to one of Australia’s largest commercial fishing fleets.

The Environment Minister has been heavily criticized by marine scientists since handing down the decision today for taking a populist approach to politics instead of understanding the facts about the super trawler when compared to other commercial fishing boats and current fishery laws. I’ve had to endure countless status updates on Facebook from people who were vehemently opposed to the trawler since the decision was passed down, claiming victory for the weight of popular opinion against ‘that boat’.

I personally don’t know enough about the super trawler as yet to make an entirely informed opinion about it, although I must say I’m somewhat sceptical at the decision. Sure, it’s a fucking gigantic commercial fishing boat, we can all agree on that, but I don’t understand how one huge fishing boat is somehow far worse than 8 small fishing boats with an equivalent quota? And there is a quota, by the way, they aren’t just taking what they please and fucking off home like cat burglars creeping in and out in the dead of night (which appears to be a notion that some are legitimately suggesting). Additionally, surely there would be less fuel being consumed in the process of propelling one larger boat when compared to the 8 smaller boats? That’s better for the environment, right? (Try winning that argument with Christine Milne).

Well we will eat fish, won’t we?

I honestly think a lot of what has driven outcry about this is the size of the vessel; people with absolutely no prior interest in commercial fishing and no knowledge of the industry or relevant laws have come together to oppose the trawler simply because it’s huge, and therefore presumably dangerous. I’ve trawled (yep, you’re damn straight I just used that pun) news and social media sites tonight to get an idea of what people are saying about the decision and found a great deal of poorly constructed debate on why the super trawler is bad.

There’s an emotional response that individuals achieve from being part of a force for change that drives people together online. It’s the digital-age (fucking digital age) Lemmings-off-the-cliff scenario, “Oh you’re supporting that, I’ll support that, sounds good”. It’s important to note that just because something is heavily supported, it doesn’t make it correct. Case in point? The whole Invisible Children & Kony debacle – everyone was getting behind that campaign blindly and without checking the actual facts about the charity and/or Kony, purely because it was clearly illustrated as ‘the right thing to do’.

Next minute, the founder of Invisible Children is furiously jacking his sausage on a busy San Diego street corner while the World watches on with equal parts embarrassment & horror.

No, that’s not egg on your face…

/end communication

Advertisements