The Null Device
A new documentary claims that, unless severe limits are placed on industrialised fishing, global fish populations will have collapsed to extinction by 2048:
It was the global capital of cod, a fishing town where the scaly creatures of the sea were so abundant they could be caught with your hands. But in the 1980s, something strange happened. The catches started to wane. The fish grew smaller. And then, in 1991, they disappeared.
It turned out the cod had been hoovered out of the sea at such a rapid rate that they couldn't reproduce themselves. But the postscript is spookier still. The Canadian government banned any attempts at fishing there, on the assumption that the few remaining fish would slowly repopulate the waters. But 15 years on, they haven't. The population was so destroyed that it could never recover.
This process of trawlering is an oceanic weapon of mass destruction, ripping up everything in its path. Charles Clover, who wrote the book on which the documentary is based, has a good analogy for it. Imagine a band of hunters stringing a mile of net between two massive all-terrain vehicles and dragging it at speed across the plains of Africa. Imagine it scooping up everything in its way: lions and cheetahs and hippos and wild dogs. The net has a massive metal roller attached to its leading edge, smashing down every tree that gets in its way. And in the end, when the hunters open up the net, they pick out the choicest creatures and dump the squashed remains in the sun as carrion for the vultures.Luckily, there is a solution; unfortunately, it is an impractical one, given the power of the fishing lobby:
The scientific experts say we need to follow two steps. First, expand the 0.6 per cent of the area of the world's oceans in which fishing is banned to 30 per cent. In these protected areas, fish can slowly recover. Second, in the remaining 70 per cent, impose strict quotas on fishermen and police it properly, as they do in Alaska, New Zealand and Iceland.
The cost of this programme? $14bn a year – precisely the sum we currently spend on subsidising fishermen. At no extra cost, we could turn them from the rapists of the oceans into their guardians.Even if they managed to beat the fishing lobby and impose these bans, they would only as good as the ability to enforce them; pirate fishing operations, such as the Chinese zombie ships operating on the high seas, would be harder to stop.
Another chapter from Britain's war on its youth: a police officer in London, who asked to not be named, has stated that the police routinely arrest teenagers with no criminal records, just to collect their DNA, just in case they do commit a crime in the future:
The officer said: "It is part of a long term crime prevention strategy. We are often told that we have just one chance to get that DNA sample and if we miss it that might mean a rape or a murder goes unsolved in the future.
"Have we got targets for young people who have not been arrested yet? The answer is yes. But we are not just waiting outside schools to pick them up, we are acting on intelligence. If you know you have had your DNA taken and it is on a database then you will think twice about committing burglary for a living."Or you'll watch a few episodes of CSI and, when you do commit a burglary, you'll ensure to tip an ashtray from a busy pub over the premises or something.
After yesterday's European elections, the UK Independence Party (an angry right-wing populist party, somewhere between the Daily Mail and the BNP, only without the overt racism of the latter) complained angrily that they were cheated of victory because their party's box was hidden behind a fold on the ballot paper, and called for the election minister's resignation:
In a letter to Mr Wills, UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: "We are outraged that today's European election have not been contested on a free and fair basis.
"We have been swamped with upset voters who failed to find us on the ballot paper. In many cases they have voted for other parties such as NO2EU and even the BNP."Having voted, I saw the ballot paper in question. It was the standard one-sided ballot paper, considerably longer than it is wide, as to accommodate the dozen or so party lists in reasonably legible type. It had been folded, though (with the one I got, at least) it was fairly obvious that there was more paper behind the fold. To suggest that a significant number of probable UKIP voters didn't notice this and were thus disenfranchised (or, even worse, tricked into voting for those nasty fascists whom we honestly have nothing in common with) doesn't say much about the UKIP's opinion of its own target audience's intelligence.