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Rant: fishy figures

Mark Footer

 

The planet is an awful mess, but while the vast majority of us do what we are told - and keep consuming, regardless - there are, at least, a few people engaged in trying to slow the degradation. And while it's proving difficult for governments to make the needs of future generations a priority, the least we should expect of our leaders is for them to tell the truth when it matters; especially if that means making it easier for those trying to keep the world in some sort of working order.

And that includes you, Chinese fishing authorities. A recent report funded by the European Parliament found China is under-declaring its overseas fishing catch by a staggering amount, with the problem particularly acute in the waters of West Africa. From 2000 to 2011, according to a Canadian study quoted, the country caught 4.6 million tonnes (more than 12 times the reported catch of 368,000 tonnes) of overseas fish a year.

The findings have been disputed and it has been suggested the mainland is not able to tally its hauls accurately, but, according to Nature magazine, Liu Xiaobing, of China's bureau of fisheries, put the annual overseas catch at 1.15 million tonnes in a speech last June, so it appears there has been at least some fibbing.

As well as taking food from the mouths of Africans, the nation's fishing industry is making the work of scientists such as Didier Gascuel - who advises governments on limits to how many fish can be caught while also avoiding population collapse - almost impossible.

If we cannot prevent fish stocks from collapsing, of course, many more of us will starve in the future. The human race: we are our own worst enemy.

 

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