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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Now I know why ~ January 12, 2010

Flinders Island – West Ann Anchorage

"Haven't caught a fish in three days! Now I know why.

Meet Tom, pro fisherman, and Wade, his deckie, seventeen, slim, cute, except for his smile, which is half bad teeth, and his  nose, like a two tone car, cheery red to a line of peeling flesh. Tom’s just as rugged. Dry skin. Scaly spots from exposure to salt poke out his flannel shirt, and through the grey of his stubble. Friendly though. Honest smile slanted like a late autumn moon under a nose that’s suffered a whack or two. Likeable, both of ‘em, but just folks like you or I. Working the outdoors to pay the bills, so they can get closer to their dreams.

Wade’s a lad who didn’t cotton on to learning through books; instead he found a love for the sea and boats. Wants a yacht one-day, to travel free, he says. All his youth, Tom worked trawlers. Scraped the seabed outside Lakes Entrance, put up with high seas, changeable weather, and commercial ships, until the oil rigs took his best ground. That forced him to work amongst the bulk carriers and big container ships that don’t care if you’re a trawler anchored to the bottom by your nets.

That ended last year when Tom scraped up enough cash to buy a Tasmanian net boat built from good strong Blue Gum back in ’35. Took a second mortgage on his house to fit her out, and then went fishing for live kelpie and red banded morwong. So he informed us, the big ones live till their ninety and fetch the best price for shipment overseas.

"Asian’s love ‘em," Tom says. They like seeing them swimming round a tank at the restaurant entrance. And love ‘em steamed by a good chef, with ginger and thin sliced carrot, and set down centre table for all to pick at. Candidly, Tom thinks their flesh too mushy and tasteless, though he doesn’t mind catching ‘em as long as the buyers keep paying $30 for every kilo. That’s our world. Supply and demand. Tom gets what he wants, and needs; the Asians get theirs too.

But, it’s out of balance, just like our poor world that’s tilted over on its axis. The farther we tilt, the faster we fall to oblivion. You see, Tom fishes the very remote Flinders Island; both sides when the weather lets him, which isn’t all that often. So, lots of time he’s holed up, like we are at this moment, listening to wind and feeling the Earth’s motion. In six months, Tom has annihilated these protected spots. He’s got to keep catching product to pay the bills, and his deckie’s also has got to earn a living. So, they’ve taken just about every fish from these remote seas, which are as barren as the bleak hills surrounding us. And when asked, how long till the fish come back, Tom shrugs and says he’s no scientist.

Nice guy Tom, like you or I, trying to pay the bills and raise a family. Not overly smart. But he is ruining the planet. And he’s not the only nice guy doing that. You see, so many other creatures depend on the balance being just right. Like the other fish who hunt those same kelpie and red banded morwong, they’re now going hungry. And their young aren’t growing up. And it’s not restricted to just the sea. In the skies above, the white winged gannets are hungry too, as are the red tipped pacific gulls that rely on these fish.

All because these Asian families and businesses groups like to marvel at the ugly morwong swimming round a tank at the restaurant entrance. Hasn't happened before. All was fine until humanity out grew its limits, and that’s why I keep saying, reducing our footprint will put Earth back in balance. So, let’s start now, before we change so much we topple over into oblivion.

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