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Discard bathwater, not baby

Richard Black | 15:20 UK time, Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Heron fishing

More selective fishing tends to produce fewer discards

Everybody wants to do it: nobody is entirely sure how that should be done.

Discarding fish is, on one level, an outrageous practice; so surely stopping it is the right thing?

A byproduct of measures to keep fishing within sustainable limits, discarding works against sustainability by ensuring that a good proportion of what fishermen catch is thrown back into the water - usually dead - thereby meaning that much more has to be caught than actually ends up on our plates.

On another level, though, it's a necessary evil.

Without quotas or some other way of curbing the extraction of fish, history suggests that the oceans would be sucked empty.

And if fishermen catch outside their quota, they mustn't make money from it or else catching outside the quota becomes profitable - ergo, the fish has to be thrown away.

That's why both fishermen and conservationists have welcomed European Commission ideas on regulating discarding out of existence; and why they are warning that doing so, while safeguarding both stocks and livelihoods, is far from a simple matter.

(The EC document was not made public, but you can read it here.)

The commission's basic idea is to find a mix of measures to regulate the fishery that includes quotas, restrictions on "fishing effort" (for example by limiting the duration of the fishing season) and closer monitoring by electronic and human observers.

In the new world, quotas would be set for both intentional catch and bycatch (accidental take). So a boat targeting, say, haddock would be permitted to take cod as well, and to land it and sell it - up to a certain limit.

So far, this is very broad brush stuff; and it's not entirely clear whether the commission will eventually propose a "one size fits all" package across EU waters or whether it'll be left to each government to select a mix appropriate to its own fisheries.

Whatever the commission comes up with and whatever governments eventually decide, it's clear that other types of reform could also help make European fisheries a lot more sustainable than they are now.

Trawlers

More industrialised fisheries are associated with higher levels of bycatch, hence of discards

Many kinds of selective fishing gear have been developed, using ideas such as escape hatches for non-target species, grids to select fish for size, and excluder or includer panels based on how different species behave.

But fishermen have not always been enthusiastic about using them - even though they would reduce discards.

In part that's because some entail extra costs without yielding extra profit.

But in other cases, fishermen are clearly not taking even the simplest measures.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES), which partly functions as the EU's scientific advisory body on fisheries, reported last year that boats in some EU waters were discarding 80% of the plaice and sole they caught.

ICES remarked:

"The high level of discarding in this fishery indicates a mismatch between the minimum landing size and the mesh size of the gear being used."

Although this is a dig at fishermen, it's also a dig at European regulators who have repeatedly elected not to mandate selective gear anything like as systematically as they could have done.

At the most extreme end, regulators could even mandate the end of trawling and the adoption of other methods that are inherently more selective.

A review of global discard data for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2005 observed:

"Shrimp and demersal finfish trawl fisheries account for over 50% of total estimated discards while representing approximately 22% of total recorded landings..."

The same review hinted at the industry's optimum structure, concluding:

"Small-scale fisheries generally have lower discard rates than industrial fisheries..."

Amid all the comments and lobbying noises and observations flying around at the moment, it's worth perhaps returning to the basic reason why discarding exists.

It's a byproduct of regulations that had to be introduced because the fishing industry has historically taken more from the seas than the seas can sustainably provide.

That's the problem... so what's the solution?

Comments

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  • 1. At 4:04pm on 01 Mar 2011, Wolfiewoods wrote:

    “That's the problem... so what's the solution?”

    One world government backed up by a maritime police force answerable to an oceanic conservation committee.

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  • 2. At 4:17pm on 01 Mar 2011, jr4412 wrote:

    Richard Black.

    "Discarding fish is, on one level, an outrageous practice ... On another level, though, it's a necessary evil ... Without quotas or some other way of curbing the extraction of fish, history suggests that the oceans would be sucked empty."

    how do you figure that??

    say quota for boat is 5 tonnes of fish x; 7 tonnes are caught, 5 tonnes of which are x; 2 tonnes of other 'by-catch' is discarded. at that point there's still 7 tonnes of fish gone from the ocean even though only 5 tonnes will be landed.

    "..so what's the solution?"

    throwing the by-catch back into the sea sure isn't; how about preventing fishing vessels from employing high tech gear (sonar, etc) and humongous nets. give the fish a sporting chance.

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  • 3. At 5:54pm on 01 Mar 2011, RobWansbeck wrote:

    Does anyone know if the Norwegian method is working? Fishermen are obliged to land their catch and can be charged for any excess.

    The idea is that the trawlers have to carefully target their catch rather than catch everything and discard what they don't want.

    It also moves the quota towards the quantity caught rather than landed.

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  • 4. At 6:12pm on 01 Mar 2011, monty191 wrote:

    I think discarding fish is a necessary evil because if fishermen were allowed to profit from their bycatch they would then catch 10 tonnes instead of 7 tonnes and just say half of it was bycatch. Then if every fisherman did that, there would be no point in having quotas at all.

    At the same time, it is very wasteful - maybe it would be better to put the bycatch to some other use which still does not allow the fisherman to profit, for example as fertilizer (I've heard this works but I don't know much about it). This would then reduce the need for inorganic fertilizers as well - a win win, surely?

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  • 5. At 6:26pm on 01 Mar 2011, westham wrote:

    The present system seems a criminal waste to throw dead fish back in to the sea. Surely the answer is that trawlers should be obliged to land everything (that can't be returned alive) with anything over quota going on to market. Proceeds for over-quota should be channeled off to fish conservation schemes (existing or new).

    If fishery protection can police quotas then they must be able to police the sale of fish over-quota.

    Result of this is no waste and fishery protection receives much needed money for vital conservation work.

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  • 6. At 6:29pm on 01 Mar 2011, johnnywill wrote:

    Surely the problem is the fisherman's inability to catch only target species.This should be resolved by using more selective fishing methods.If they are unable to catch targeted species only they should either move fishing grounds or retire from the industry and let more skilled fisherman have their quotas.Large trawlers crewed by cheap foreign labour don't give a damm about stocks.Small boats skipper owned who care about the future is the way forward

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  • 7. At 6:32pm on 01 Mar 2011, johnnywill wrote:

    Yes the norwegian method does work,hench their fishery is going from strength to strength as ours dies before our eyes

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  • 8. At 6:46pm on 01 Mar 2011, VeganHammer wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 9. At 7:02pm on 01 Mar 2011, newdomainer wrote:

    If you follow logic, we will only continue to concoct ways of catching more and more fish with bigger ships, bigger nets etc...

    The answer has to be to make fishing harder - scrap the huge factory trawler ships and promote selective methods.

    This will achieve many things; it'll push the price of fish up, this will make smaller fisherman's businesses more viable with smaller catches and the environment, specifically fish stocks, will benefit and hopefully recover.

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  • 10. At 7:08pm on 01 Mar 2011, monty191 wrote:

    I definitely think a combination of using methods/equipment to target only certain species of fish and using the over-quota productively is the way forward. I'm not sure the Norwegian system of charging for excess would work in the UK as we don't have the strong fishing economy that they do - it would probably put some fishermen out of business.

    I am vegetarian, but I think it's completely unreasonable to suggest the entire country goes vegan as a solution to the problem - it's just not realistic!

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  • 11. At 7:09pm on 01 Mar 2011, bowmanthebard wrote:

    VeganHammer #8 wrote:

    All animal protein leeches calcium from the bones causing osteoporosis as just one example (oh, the irony of those adverts and campaigns whereby they say you need cow's milk for calcium!).

    I'm sure a vegan lifestyle is morally better than an animal-exploiting lifestyle, but let's not get carried away and make unsupportable factual claims about its supposed benefits for health.

    If you want to avoid osteoporosis, you need to get enough vitamin D -- which on our rain-swept isles is realistically only available in animal products such as oily fish. Women especially need iron in "absorbable" forms as in red meat (but not spinach).

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  • 12. At 7:19pm on 01 Mar 2011, Hastings wrote:

    I know it is on a different channel, but Hugh Fearnly Wittingstall has been working hard on this campaign.

    http://www.foodloversdiary.com/campaigns/fish-fight-we-must-eat-fish/

    There are two sides to the problem, one of them almost (but not quite) unique to the UK.

    This side of the problem is down to the good old consumer. In the UK we simply are way too fussy. "Ooh, it has a bone in it! Ug, it has eyes!! I can't eat that, its too complicated..." and other rather unhelpful remarks. We have over fished things like Cod basically because that is what the majority of the UK eat. When we have our kid's friends come round, you should see the faces at the idea of eating something that is not boneless and preferably wrapped in batter.

    Fearnley-Wittingstall points out, revealing nothing new really, that there are a huge amount of fish types out there that we simply do not make enough of, and that includes things like the prolific little mackeral. Also fish like Dab fish and others which are very cheap and mostly thrown away.

    If we had a much broader diet of fish, this would reduce pressure on the over fished stocks and we would benefit not just in a dietary way, but in eating lots of tasty different fish!

    Obviously, regulations have to change too, and this debate in Brussels is very important, but if consumers and the fish suppliers and fish product manufactures did their bit too, then that will make a real difference.

    ############

    @ Vegan Hammer

    I cannot think of anything I would ever want to do less than go vegan. A friend of mine is a Health professional, and they get fed up of having to treat the unhealthy kids of Vegan Parents.

    As for you comment about Denmark - actually that happened in the UK as well. It was nothing to do with vegan-ism, it was to do with eating a slightly more balanced diet and, more importantly, eating much less.

    So, DON'T go Vegan. We don't have enough land to grow that many vegetables, there will be more health problems and, most of all, eating meat and fish is wonderful!!!

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  • 13. At 7:26pm on 01 Mar 2011, Dorsai wrote:

    How about banning "discarding" entirely, forcing a boat to land "everything and anything" it catches, but only allowing a boat to get the money for what is inside their quota.

    Anything "over quota" is sold at market, but the income goes to fund regulation/conservation/management of stocks.

    Then if a boat not allowed to catch something catches 10 tonnes of it they still get sold, and eaten (rather than wasted) but the boat owner gets noting for them. Next time they might be rather more careful not to catch something they are not allowed to profit from.

    On a side note I hardly ever eat fish as I do not believe the current fishing methods are sustainable, and I will not contribute to such a wasteful system by buying it's products.

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  • 14. At 7:28pm on 01 Mar 2011, PAWB46 wrote:

    Best solution is to get out of the EUSSR and bring our seas back under our control.

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  • 15. At 7:34pm on 01 Mar 2011, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    CCTV will also monitor unsafe working practices and give 'elf and safety more to do. Good job prospects for 'elf and safety officers. I like the idea of the excess catch being sold to fund marine conservation. Perhaps there will be less reports of fish 'mass die off' around the world when regulation kicks in. Perhaps there will be a knock on effect of less sharks attacks too. The trouble with being a Vegan, is that one needs a degree in nutrition to understand how to maintain a healthy balanced diet. Getting all of the essential amino acids without animal or fish proteins is quite a task. With all of the technology available, one would have thought that there would be an increase in marine farms. Good job prospects for ex fisherman as 'hunter turned gamekeeper.'
    Thanks for showing us the non-public document.

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  • 16. At 7:43pm on 01 Mar 2011, marsave wrote:

    There is only one simple solution to this whole problem of stock preservation. It would be painfull to begin with but in the long term would insure a fishing to perpetuity with an ever expanding fishing fleet. Why don't we impose strict fishing methods that would take out of our oceans the mature fish and shellfish. For example, why not restrict prawn fishing to creel fishing thus harvesting only the mature prawns thus preserving our stock to grow and mature? What about line fishing only for cod, dogfish etc. The herring drifters of days gone by landed only prime fish and left the immature to grow to maturity. The alternative is too unthinkable to imagine.

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  • 17. At 7:48pm on 01 Mar 2011, bowmanthebard wrote:

    Hastings #12 wrote:

    In the UK we simply are way too fussy. "Ooh, it has a bone in it!

    The UK extends beyond England, and there are places where kippers for breakfast are a matter of virility.

    "Can you eat the herring?" -- a question immortalized in turn by Buchan, Hitchcock and Salinger (from the movie _The 39 Steps_).

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  • 18. At 7:54pm on 01 Mar 2011, CanadianRockies wrote:

    You've picked a complex topic here Richard. The ultimate problem is too many boats chasing too few fish with too much high technology, compounded by too much demand for fish - now encouraged still more by their promotion for health benefits.

    Since so much of this 'bycatch' is dead anyways, the simplest solution is to have the quotas include everything they catch. The by-catch can be processed into some marine version of Soylent Green or fish sticks that no one could identify anyway. God only knows what is in some things now.

    This will also have the effect of reducing the actual catch of the more marketable species, drive those prices up, and reduce demand.

    The problem with that - and so much more - is that there is no way to effectively regulate that without having some Green Policeman on every fishing boat.

    But be prepared for some negative reaction. The South Suffield Seagull Salvation Society, or something like that, will be protesting the starving gulls if they lose their rich supplies of this bycatch.

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  • 19. At 8:03pm on 01 Mar 2011, AndyS wrote:

    Land all catches, then apply a "simple" mathematical adjustment to the species landed designed to encourage adherance to quota whilst still providing a living.

    e.g. quota 1000Tonnes herring, any bycatch Cod is rated as x2
    so 500T herring and 250T Cod and you're beached.

    Should be able to adjust multipliers so that bycatch is somewhat less profitable than target. Ratings vary by boat/fishery/species sustainability. Computer time 10 minutes per boat per landing (max).

    Then police it effectively with truly Draconian penalties.

    And when voting on fishing policy each country has a 10xmultiple in voting strength applied to decisions on fisheries in their territorial waters.

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  • 20. At 8:53pm on 01 Mar 2011, VeganHammer wrote:

    Monty 191

    I understand you may think it is unrealistic for everyone to be vegan, certainly at this stage but that is also what they said about the abolition of slavery, rights for women etc at the time. I know it won't happen for many, many years, certainly not in my lifetime (I am 40 now), but however long it takes, I believe it will happen and people will look back in the same way as they look at the holocaust and say ''did we really do that to them?'' for anyone that may be surprised by that statement, please tell me what the difference is? The only difference is in the species

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  • 21. At 8:57pm on 01 Mar 2011, VeganHammer wrote:

    Sensiblegrannie :

    ''The trouble with being a Vegan, is that one needs a degree in nutrition to understand how to maintain a healthy balanced diet. Getting all of the essential amino acids without animal or fish proteins is quite a task''

    Not really, like any diet, you need to look at where you are getting your nutrition and where you are missing out and act on it. As for getting all the amino acids, baked beans on wholemeal toast gets you all your amino acids as just one example. Simples

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  • 22. At 9:10pm on 01 Mar 2011, jr4412 wrote:

    VeganHammer #20, #21.

    go on about "the abolition of slavery" and "the holocaust" (really!!) all you will, if humans had evolved to be vegans, there'd be only molars in our mouths (and we might have more than one stomach ;)).

    "Simples"

    exactly.

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  • 23. At 9:19pm on 01 Mar 2011, VeganHammer wrote:

    Hastings.............

    ''@ Vegan Hammer

    I cannot think of anything I would ever want to do less than go vegan. A friend of mine is a Health professional, and they get fed up of having to treat the unhealthy kids of Vegan Parents.

    As for you comment about Denmark - actually that happened in the UK as well. It was nothing to do with vegan-ism, it was to do with eating a slightly more balanced diet and, more importantly, eating much less.

    So, DON'T go Vegan. We don't have enough land to grow that many vegetables, there will be more health problems and, most of all, eating meat and fish is wonderful!!!''
    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Tell your Health Professional friend to tell the vegan parents to be responsible and look at their children's nutritional needs. What about all the parents that allow their children to eat chicken nuggets and hot dogs etc - do you have any idea what MRM really is ? check it out ! Do you not think those children get unwell ? Are you aware that more than a third of pigs go to slaughter with pneumonia ? Are you aware that 95% of food poisoning cases are from bacteria from animal products, probably not. Believe me, they are just two examples.

    Check out the Denmark thing

    Oh and why do you think there is not enough land to grow all the fruit and veg ? Let me tell you, it is because all the land is being used to raise farm animals and feed and water them to produce their meat. And what do you think happens to all their waste, it erodes the soil and flows out to the rivers, starving fish of oxygen and ''drowning'' them in the water. See how it's all related ?

    You keep eating your decomposing flesh, Hastings.


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  • 24. At 9:23pm on 01 Mar 2011, CanadianRockies wrote:

    #22 You got it jr4412. We evolved as hunter-gatherers. But if some people want to voluntarily step down the food chain, that will just leave more animal protein for me, and others like me.

    I'm not much of a fish eater myself, although pan-fried fresh trout are a wonderful thing. My favourite meat is also the most natural - game meat, preferably moose but elk and deer too and, best of all, bison, from ranches now.

    So, to paraphrase Marie Antoinette, let them eat lentils (if they want).

    Just found this related story (to Richard's topic):

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/mar/01/eu-ban-fish-discards

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  • 25. At 9:30pm on 01 Mar 2011, Craig Miller wrote:

    “That's the problem... so what's the solution?”

    Reduce the amount the fishing boat can catch by deducting it's overfishing from the previous year.

    So if the fishing boat catches 5 tonnes of in 2011, it can only catch it's target - 5 tonnes the next year.

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  • 26. At 9:32pm on 01 Mar 2011, VeganHammer wrote:

    jr4412.........

    ''if humans had evolved to be vegans, there'd be only molars in our mouths (and we might have more than one stomach ;)).''
    -----------------------------------------------------------
    That's embarassing. The teeth in our mouth are for chewing tough vegetables, all carnivorous animals break meat down into small pieces and swallow rather than chew it, they have small intestines, we have long ones (that's why colonic irrigation is big business!), their mouth-to-head ratio is much bigger than ours and other herbivorous animals like horses, cows and sheep. I can easily go on but I cannot be bothered TBH.

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  • 27. At 9:39pm on 01 Mar 2011, VeganHammer wrote:

    CanadianRockies :

    We don't just eat lentils you may be surprised to read.

    10 million sperm and you get through !

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  • 28. At 9:51pm on 01 Mar 2011, robertinfrance wrote:

    Over qouta fish need to be landed and sold on a "overquota market" where buyers with unused quotas can purchase the fish and resell on the open market at a profit. That way the overquota fish not only are not wasted but are taking up unused quota and thus reducing the total catch.

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  • 29. At 10:04pm on 01 Mar 2011, jr4412 wrote:

    CanadianRockies #24.

    so, you're one in ten million, eh? (me too, and proud of it) why is it that fanatics (irrespective which religious belief system they adopt) always resort to personal insults when they're not getting their way?

    from the article:
    "..whereby fishermen land all of their catch, monitored by CCTV cameras.."

    no good, unless the CCTV is on the vessel and tamperproof.



    VeganHammer #26.

    all our close relatives live on a largely, but not exclusively vegetarian diet. if you have factual evidence to the contrary (ie peer-reviewed, published, etc), feel free to post reference links.

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  • 30. At 10:22pm on 01 Mar 2011, PragueImp wrote:

    Why do we keep referring to them as 'fishermen'?
    We are not talking about a crew of 3 or 4 setting out in a small boat from some quaint North Sea harbour. This is industrial scale fishing. Big boats, big equipment and big catches.
    Maybe that's where the answer lies - you can only go out in a small boat and bring back a few fish?!


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  • 31. At 11:14pm on 01 Mar 2011, so1980 wrote:

    we in the Faroe islands already have an alternativ to the quota system which works well to prevent the discarding of fish. Instead of regulating the fishery with quotas we use "fishing days". Forexample the fishing boats which have specialized in catching haddock can still bycatch cod up to 30%.

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  • 32. At 11:18pm on 01 Mar 2011, John Lilley wrote:

    A very sad situation indeed Richard. If the fishermen cannot target the fish accurately I'd rather see the bycatch going into fishmeal, with an enforced low price, than thrown back dead. That would stop the fishermen from profiting too much from deliberate inaccuracy.

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  • 33. At 11:29pm on 01 Mar 2011, CODFISH07 wrote:

    In Norway 1992 they payed off 85% of the mobile comercial fish fleet. They had the fore sight to see which way the fish stocks were going- down. they cracked it, since they cut the fleet the fish stocks have grown greatly. The main method they employ now is to long line for the fish. This is basicly a long mono line with baited hooks spaced out along the length of the line because the fish are so prolific it works.
    Here is a different matter the seas have been plundered for years. One sole reason TO MAKE AS MUCH MONEY AS POSSIBLE, the mobile comercial fleet have been there own worst enemy for years. Please can any skipper out there put there hand up if they've never landed any BLACK FISH (STOLEN FISH)in the years gone by. No thought not.
    One way round this shocking problem would be to cut there days at sea to seven days and they land everything they catch and that goes to there quota.
    Bigger net sizes do NOT work, once the codend fills with fish the smaller fish can't escape anyway and end up dead with the preasure on them. Like everthing else in life " you reap what you sow" the sea owes them nothing.

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  • 34. At 00:45am on 02 Mar 2011, eccles wrote:

    Veganism isn't the answer simply because it is unsustainable, in its current form at least:
    Many vegan protein products are imported and therefore have high food miles.
    Cattle and sheep are essential for maintenance of what little remains of our meadows and heathland, and their associated wildlife. Grazing prevents the return of the land to scrub and eventually the forest that originally covered much of the UK.
    Much marginal land is only capable of supporting grazing livestock and cannot be used for arable farming.
    I'm not condemning veganism but vegan piety is misplaced.

    No-fish zones are a potential solution to overfishing. Establish nursery areas where ALL fishing is banned and allow fish stocks in those areas to reach optimum levels. When they have sufficiently recovered, release a portion and section off adjacent areas.
    Trawling using drag nets should be curtailed.

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  • 35. At 01:09am on 02 Mar 2011, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @VeganHammer
    Also @ any other wannabe vegans.

    You are definitely forgetting vitamin B12. Vegans need to know to watch their vitamin B12.

    http://www.vegansociety.com/lifestyle/nutrition/b12.aspx

    There are other nutrients that baked beans on toast don't supply, but then I presume you were only using baked beans on toast as a good example of amino acids.

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  • 36. At 02:14am on 02 Mar 2011, Robert Lucien wrote:

    #15. At 7:34pm on 01 Mar 2011, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    CCTV will also monitor unsafe working practices and give 'elf and safety more to do. Good job prospects for 'elf and safety officers.
    ---------
    I hate to say it but I can see that ending up killing a lot of innocent health and safety officers, When they see the fishermen's terrible safety standards they will all end up having heart attacks.

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  • 37. At 06:23am on 02 Mar 2011, monty191 wrote:

    What about the practice adopted in some American states of allowing trawlers to exchange bycatch with each other, instead of throwing back the fish they aren't targeting? It seems to have been successful in Alaska, does anyone else know more about this?

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  • 38. At 08:02am on 02 Mar 2011, Lipophrys wrote:

    The issue with landing and selling what is currently bycatch is that these fish are typically undersized and of little value. The reason they are usually discarded is because the subsequent hauls contain larger fish (often of better quality) and of greater value. This 'swap' may continue to occur even when discards are supposed to be landed. This would be due to a lack of funding for observers and policing on board fishing vessels. With the current economy I am not convinced that policing fishing vessels would become a priority.

    On a more personal note (and perhaps too romanticized) it would be great to see the smaller boats that once lined our shores back in use again instead of the huge mechanized ships. Unfortunately the local fish stock knowledge of such boat owning fisherman has already been significantly lost.

    From reading the thread it appears that Veganhammer has managed to distract from the main topic in a bid to enforce their beliefs on the public. Firstly, I would like to point out the damage that both cattle ranching AND soybean production is having on the environment (I am only using these two as stereotypical examples but there are plenty more out there):

    http://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/39na3.pdf.

    Whilst neither have good consequences, huge plantations such as soybean are believed to reduce local biodiversity more so than cattle ranching. Whilst it is localized, the knock on effect in these, normally, species rich regions can be substantial.

    Self-sufficiency would be the ultimate way to go but on a small island with big population, well the numbers just don’t add up!

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  • 39. At 08:19am on 02 Mar 2011, bowmanthebard wrote:

    VeganHammer #20 wrote:

    people will look back in the same way as they look at the holocaust and say ''did we really do that to them?'' for anyone that may be surprised by that statement, please tell me what the difference is? The only difference is in the species

    You could use the same argument to condemn the eating of lettuce -- "the only difference is in the species". So obviously, it's not the species that counts.

    Unlike plants, animals with brains have minds and hence interests. When we kill them, we thwart these interests. But please note that this is a matter of degree. Humans have a much richer mental life than fish, say, and are much longer-lived. Killing a human thwarts a huge range of detailed interests -- plans for the future, hopes for their children and so on -- as well as cutting short many years of life. Killing a fish certainly thwarts its desire to live, but since it probably has a much sparser mental life, it probably thwarts a less wide range of interests as well as cutting short a shorter life.

    So killing fish is bad, but it's less bad than killing mammals with richer mental lives such as whales, and it's much less bad than killing humans. So I don't think it's quite a "Holocaust", although future generations may eat less meat and give animals they do kill somewhat better lives. They may indeed look back with the same sense as we look back on cock-fighting, bear-baiting, fox-hunting, etc..

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  • 40. At 08:23am on 02 Mar 2011, LabMunkey wrote:

    Dafte question- instead of fishing quota's couldn't they just limit the number of trips they can take a year?

    I.e. you can take your boat out 50 (random number) times only- (if you don't catch anything it doesn't count as a trip). Fill your boots, but then thats it.

    Would that work? It would limit the fishing impacts by limitng the 'exposure' to fishing vessels and eliminate the 'toss back' too.

    Man i'm a genious.

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  • 41. At 08:39am on 02 Mar 2011, PragueImp wrote:

    Lipophrys (38)
    Unfortunately that link doesn't seem to work. Please resend it - it sounds interesting.

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  • 42. At 08:40am on 02 Mar 2011, LabMunkey wrote:

    @20

    your statement is so stupid i barely know where to begin.

    1- we're biological entities which have evolved to survive by eating other animals/plants
    2- the holocaust was the attempt to systematically wipe out an entire race for ideological reasons.

    Personally, i'm not seeing the similarity.

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  • 43. At 08:46am on 02 Mar 2011, PragueImp wrote:

    Monty191 (37)
    '..allowing trawlers to exchange bycatch with each other..'

    It sounds too logical to be true! This must be a way forward - catch whatever, bring it all back and exchange the species not in your quota.

    John Lilley (32)
    '..I'd rather see the bycatch going into fishmeal..'

    Also makes sense. Any species not in your quota goes to fishmeal rather than back into the sea.

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  • 44. At 08:48am on 02 Mar 2011, CanadianRockies wrote:

    #39. bowmanthebard wrote... an outstanding post. Very well said. Had to laugh at this brilliant understatement: that a fish "probably has a much sparser mental life" than we do. Yes indeed, "probably" somewhat "sparser." They don't even seem bored in aquariums.

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  • 45. At 08:58am on 02 Mar 2011, Smiffie wrote:

    We are emptying the seas to satisfy demand, the problem is obvious, there are just far too many people in the world.

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  • 46. At 09:04am on 02 Mar 2011, sensiblegrannie wrote:

    Meow! This debate is showing claws! VeganHammer, I understand your belief in vegetarianism and I think it is an admirable stance. However, to be a Vegan and stay healthy one would have to live in a somewhat idealized world. Unfortunately our present world is contaminated and many of our bodies are damaged as a result of various forms of contamination. Even the Vegan Society shows in one of its articles, the many different ways that we would be unlikely to process all of our vitamin b12 requirements. That is why I stand by my statement about needing a great deal of knowledge and understanding to go the vegan route. And, it is worth reading about the effects of caffeine on b12 absorption. It is also worth studying diets from other cultures where vegetarianism is strictly observed.
    Anyway, back on track. Monty at post 37. Sounds like a reasonable idea and is it workable?
    Robert Lucien at post 36 ;-) In that case I shan't apply for that job.

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  • 47. At 09:17am on 02 Mar 2011, rossglory wrote:

    "That's the problem... so what's the solution?

    as canadianrockies pointed out this is complex (not so simples). this is just one example where the 'success' of our economic systems are coming up against environmental limits. this has always been an issue locally but is now becoming a global issue. and like labmunkey, i think restricting access should be a big part of the solution.

    no-take zones have been proved to be successful and give fish species a chance to recover (in some fisheries a lot of the bycatch are juveniles).

    it also protects whole ecosystems (especially the sea bed) which then feed fish into the surrounding fisheries.

    and it's easier to police than monitoring activity on boats.

    imho a shockingly small amount of the ocean is protected.

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  • 48. At 09:40am on 02 Mar 2011, DavidHankey wrote:

    I fully understand the need for controlling what is extracted from the sea but the 'Discard' policy is absurd and not sustainable.

    What is the point of throwing good, prime fish dead back into the sea? It makes no sense at all and no-one will convince me this is the only way to help fish stocks.

    It is quite apparent the law-makers who sit in their ivory towers in Brussels and elsewhere haven't a clue and don't live in the real world.

    The way forward is to reduce fishing days but allow all catches to be landed. Let's try it, give 5 years and see what happens to fish stocks.

    Above all go to the www.fishfight.net and sign the Petition and stop this scandalous waste of prime edible fish.

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  • 49. At 09:51am on 02 Mar 2011, bowmanthebard wrote:

    sensiblegrannie #46 wrote:

    it is worth reading about the effects of caffeine on b12 absorption.

    I've not heard anything about this. Link?

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  • 50. At 09:53am on 02 Mar 2011, rossglory wrote:

    #39 bowmanthebard

    "So killing fish is bad, but it's less bad than killing mammals with richer mental lives such as whales, and it's much less bad than killing humans."

    the assumption being that there is value in a rich mental life (which of course i agree with). but there is no way to prove it has value a priori, it is just an evolved trait after all.

    also, an important aspect would be the rarity of the species. killing the last few remaining bluefin tuna would be worse than killing a few rats even though, imho, rats are rather smart and interesting animals.

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  • 51. At 10:04am on 02 Mar 2011, blunderbunny wrote:

    @rossglory #47

    Ahem! Well, this is embarassing..... For once, I find myself in wholehearted agreement with you. I struggle to understand why there's not more protected ocean. Where they exist, No Take zones do seem to be working, there just aren't enough of them and they're really not big enough....

    Regards,

    One of the Lobby

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  • 52. At 10:49am on 02 Mar 2011, Lipophrys wrote:

    # 41

    Sorry about the link not working. If you type 'Soybean deflorestation' into google.co.uk it is approx the 7th article down (in Pdf format). There are also numerous scientific papers if you type the same thing into google scholar.

    This may also be useful for other people when trying to back up their otherwise unproven statements!

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  • 53. At 11:03am on 02 Mar 2011, rossglory wrote:

    #51 blunderbunny

    i have a feeling we'd have a fair bit in common just as long as we avoided the subject of agw....shhh :o)

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  • 54. At 12:33pm on 02 Mar 2011, bowmanthebard wrote:

    rossglory #50 wrote:

    the assumption being that there is value in a rich mental life (which of course i agree with).

    The basic idea is that we should respect "interests", and the only things that have interests are agents with goals (i.e, desires/wants). The richer an agent's mental life, the more goals it has, and the more interests we have to respect.

    but there is no way to prove it has value a priori, it is just an evolved trait after all.

    That's OK -- we don't need to "prove" anything a priori.

    also, an important aspect would be the rarity of the species. killing the last few remaining bluefin tuna would be worse than killing a few rats even though, imho, rats are rather smart and interesting animals.

    But it would only matter more in an indirect way -- to the agents who value biodiversity (or whatever) and thus have biodiversity as one of their interests. To the tuna that gets killed, it's all the same to it whether it's the last bluefin on Earth, or one of millions of dime-a-dozen yellowfin tuna... Either way, it's the same bad news to it, namely its own death!

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  • 55. At 12:53pm on 02 Mar 2011, LabMunkey wrote:

    @ 53

    Whatever you do, don't mentioned the AGW.... i mentioned it once but i think i got away with it.... *ambles off*

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  • 56. At 2:51pm on 02 Mar 2011, Dr Brian Skinner wrote:

    I'm sure that when I was a kid I saw a film showing an experiment on the size of holes in nets showing undersized fish escaping.
    In any event the discard policy has been a scandal for years with nobody doing anything about it.
    1. All catches should be landed.
    2. Full sized fish should be sold on the open market.
    3. Undersized fish should be purchased by a public company at a tiny price thus giving no profit to the fishermen and thus no encouragement to overfish.
    There should always be some undersized fish to show that the fishermen have not been discarding.
    4. The publicly owned undersized fish can be sold to fishmeal companies for processing.
    Not beyond the wit of man.

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  • 57. At 2:55pm on 02 Mar 2011, rossglory wrote:

    #54 bowmanthebard

    "The basic idea is that we should respect "interests","

    not too sure what you mean by 'we', 'should' is solely a prescriptive term and has no real meaning in this context ('you cannot get and ought from an is') and whether you 'respect' something does not equate to a measure of value.

    as daniel dennet has shown, inelligent agency is solely an evolved trait that in some respects is no different to a useful opposing thumb or upright gait. therefore if one is to insist on 'respect' for an evolved 'trait' one needs to show why that trait is, a priori, worthy of respect.

    i don;t believe you have done that, unless you believe there is some spiritual aspect to 'cognitative ability' of course.

    "That's OK -- we don't need to "prove" anything a priori.". presumably you're leaning towards an a posteriori approach to value of evolved traits and therefore are taking an inductivist approach. cognitive ability may have value today but possibly that could change in the future, perhaps there is a mechanism that is more valuable an 'agents mental life'.

    "one of their interests" - of course as descartes showed, bottom line is that there is no objective evidence that anyone's interests are separate from anyone elses and therefore the destruction of one particular process that accesses a pool of interests is no different to one that does not (e.g. a tuna fish). unless of course you accept descartes conclusion that 'god is good'.

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  • 58. At 3:05pm on 02 Mar 2011, rossglory wrote:

    #54 bowmanthebard

    "The richer an agent's mental life, the more goals it has, and the more interests we have to respect."

    does this apply to an agent with a rich mental life but no way to express it (e.g. paralysed). of course there are cases of people apparently in comas that have had a 'mental life' but no way of indicating as such. how would such a person rate in your scale? would they be higher than someone with limited 'mental life' but the ability to fulfil their goals quite happily.

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  • 59. At 4:49pm on 02 Mar 2011, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard
    @rossglory
    @CanadianRockies
    @VeganHammer

    After having seen serious evidence of sentience in great apes, elephants, crows, parrots, members of the dolphin family and some octopuses, I would be extremely unhappy about being involved in hurting, killing, or eating them.

    Now I might with a little thought be able to put that aesthetic reaction into something more utilitarian, involving gobbledegook about "mental life". But quite frankly, if you don't appreciate my aesthetic reaction to such situations I would be a little concerned by your attitude.

    I hope you see this does not impinge on my ability to empathise with locked-in human beings.

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  • 60. At 6:16pm on 02 Mar 2011, bowmanthebard wrote:

    rossglory #57 wrote:

    'should' is solely a prescriptive term and has no real meaning in this context ('you cannot get and ought from an is')

    I'm definitely prescribing here rather than describing, so it's appropriate to use words like 'ought' and 'should'. I don't think "oughts" are literally true or false, so I like Hume I don't think they can be derived from truths alone.

    I think I see your point, though, if you're asking what basic moral principle I'm appealing to. I'm appealing to a principle that we ought to satisfy preferences as much as possible. To argue for it would take too long here, but to point you to a reference, I'm quite sympathetic to Peter Singer's view in his book _Practical Ethics_. He offers an argument in that book, which might convince you, but with this sort of thing the best we can do is appeal to shared values, and usually the best we can do is ask the other person to "look at it like this".

    bowmanthebard #54: The richer an agent's mental life, the more goals it has, and the more interests we have to respect.

    rossglory #57: does this apply to an agent with a rich mental life but no way to express it (e.g. paralysed).

    Yes.

    JaneBasingstoke #59 wrote:

    After having seen serious evidence of sentience in great apes, elephants, crows, parrots, members of the dolphin family and some octopuses, I would be extremely unhappy about being involved in hurting, killing, or eating them.

    Now I might with a little thought be able to put that aesthetic reaction into something more utilitarian, involving gobbledegook about "mental life".


    I think you're being a bit harsh here. You rightly describe all of the animals listed above as "sentient", and that probably informs your "aesthetic" judgment. But sentient animals are just those that have a rich mental life, and it's a matter of degree, so we have to roll up our sleeves a bit and try to come to grips with it. "Locked in" humans do have a mental life and for that reason their preferences have to be taken into account, even though their behavior does not exhibit the "serious evidence of sentience" that you see in great apes, etc.. So it's really important that we focus on the actual mental life of such people rather than just the outward appearances seen in behavior.

    Furthermore, different people have different aesthetic judgment. Many racists discount the interests of members of races on aesthetic grounds. So aesthetic judgment on its own isn't good enough.

    But quite frankly, if you don't appreciate my aesthetic reaction to such situations I would be a little concerned by your attitude.

    But think of someone who thinks octopuses are ugly, slimy things and so don't deserve any sort of care or concern. I don't appreciate their aesthetic reaction, because I think what matters is mental life, and on that criterion octopuses definitely count.

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  • 61. At 6:26pm on 02 Mar 2011, Katie_Hartin wrote:

    @ PragueImp (43)
    Both of your solutions sound like they are adequately addressing just one of the problems at hand here- efficiency. By preventing the by-catch from being merely a waste product and instead transforming it into a valuable commodity, the market and industry become more efficient. The selling of less desirable fish to foreign markets and to companies that produce fishmeal certainly creates less waste, but does it provide long-term sustainability?

    These proposals does not seem to address the problem of depleting fish populations in the ocean. As rossglory (47) points out, restricting access to areas with viable, diverse fish populations could allow the fish to recover should this policy be properly enforced. This may be done on a rotational basis perhaps to avoid hurting any regional or local economies more than others. This may still compromise some fish populations, but it should at least prolong viability.

    While many suggestions have been posted, ranging from the move towards small-scale fishing operations, more advanced detection technology, and penalties for exceeding a quota, I think perhaps one of the simplest ways to reinforce the idea of reducing waste is to provide a reward to those fisherman who have little by-catch and punish those who have a great deal. Assigning numbers and figures to these sorts of policies always generates a great deal of debate, often between big business and the mom-and-pops. It is not an easy reform to tackle, but it is one that is necessary to prevent the ocean commons from drastically changing to our disadvantage.

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  • 62. At 6:34pm on 02 Mar 2011, rossglory wrote:

    #59 janebasingstoke

    i totally agree with you.

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  • 63. At 8:49pm on 02 Mar 2011, rossglory wrote:

    #60 bowman

    "rossglory #57: does this apply to an agent with a rich mental life but no way to express it (e.g. paralysed).

    Yes."

    but how would you know they had a 'rich mental life' if they have no means of communicating the fact? just as possibley a shark is unable to communicate the fact it is having a 'rich mental life'.

    physical behaviour is all you can really go on to assess 'mental life'.

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  • 64. At 9:14pm on 02 Mar 2011, CanadianRockies wrote:

    59. JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    "After having seen serious evidence of sentience in great apes, elephants, crows, parrots, members of the dolphin family and some octopuses, I would be extremely unhappy about being involved in hurting, killing, or eating them."

    Well Jane, from my extensive personal experience with many species of wildlife, I can assure you that, in general, the intelligence of most if not all 'higher' species in vastly underrated. And you go even further and look at the 'collective' intelligence of social insects like ants and termites and find intelligence that we would rather not acknowledge.

    I believe that modern humans choose to see them as 'dumb' or whatever so they can avoid the feelings you just expressed - unlike the hunter-gatherers who fully acknowledged their intelligence and sentient 'spirits' and killed them anyways, with 'respect,' because they were more in touch with the reality of their existence than we are.

    Now, given you comments, I hope you don't eat pork because pigs are extremely intelligent. Which leads us to the question of intelligence. I believe that it is an adaptation. Each species is as intelligent as its life requires it to be. Thus omnivores - like pigs, corvids, primates - which must make intelligent decisions and choices are inherently more intelligent than, say, grazers who make more simple choices.

    As far as any blanket statement about being "extremely unhappy about being involved in hurting, killing, or eating them," humans hurt and kill other humans all the time. So is it OK for UK soldiers to kill a Taliban rebel but not, say, a parrot?

    That Taliban is dead. No he's not.

    "But quite frankly, if you don't appreciate my aesthetic reaction to such situations I would be a little concerned by your attitude."

    I understand your feelings. Many people feel that way. Different strokes for different folks.

    "I hope you see this does not impinge on my ability to empathise with locked-in human beings."

    OK. What is a "locked-in" human being? One of the poor majority stuck in some concrete jungle?


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  • 65. At 9:20pm on 02 Mar 2011, jr4412 wrote:

    CanadianRockies #64.

    "I believe that modern humans choose to see them as 'dumb' or whatever so they can avoid the feelings you just expressed - unlike the hunter-gatherers who fully acknowledged their intelligence and sentient 'spirits' and killed them anyways, with 'respect,' because they were more in touch with the reality of their existence than we are."

    hear, hear.

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  • 66. At 11:41pm on 02 Mar 2011, blunderbunny wrote:

    @Many

    Well, this is an agreeable thread, with regards to intelligence, I'm in total agreement with my learned fellow bloggers above - CanadianRockies & jr4412.

    I really don't think that we're all that different you know, we're all concerned with the environment and with various specific environmental issues, we all spend quite a lot of our spare time on this and on other blogs.... there are really only a couple of things that we disagree on.

    Admittedly, they are some quite big things ;-)

    But I, for one, will try a little harder to remember that in future....

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  • 67. At 01:10am on 03 Mar 2011, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #60

    "ugly, slimy things"

    Where in my #59 do I ask people to snog octopuses? Or keep them as decorative pets?

    I'm trying to demonstrate that personality and empathy comes under aesthetics, just as much as physical beauty and the appreciation of the same. And that empathy, that can pick up on strong people like qualities, can be inclusive, is more likely to be inclusive, seeing a person in a "locked-in" patient is related to seeing people like qualities in non-human animals with recognisable strong sentience.

    Earlier posts in this thread suggested that empathy had to be the more limited either/or. That's not the way empathy works.

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  • 68. At 01:10am on 03 Mar 2011, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @CanadianRockies #64

    You are underestimating "modern humans".

    A few years back Channel 4 did a few series where ordinary people were asked to live the lifestyles of recent historical eras for a fly on the wall documentary.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_1940s_House

    One era was during World War 2 and the participating family were provided with some rabbits to breed for meat.

    And on day 2, before the simulated wartime food rationing had kicked in, they said "no". Because they knew they'd have to kill their pet rabbits for that meat. And then the programme makers made the comment that in real life many people hadn't had that foresight and had then had problems killing the rabbits, or if they'd managed to kill the rabbits they'd then had problems eating the rabbits.

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  • 69. At 02:49am on 03 Mar 2011, CanadianRockies wrote:

    68. JaneBasingstoke

    I guess they would have starved to death back in the hunter-gatherer days.

    Your use of the word "pet" pretty much explains things.

    Are you familiar with the "pet" dogs of Korea?

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  • 70. At 07:37am on 03 Mar 2011, bowmanthebard wrote:

    rossglory #63 wrote:

    physical behaviour is all you can really go on to assess 'mental life'.

    In that case, I presume you mean to deny the existence of "locked in" humans? -- I hope you never get to make important medical decisions!

    (It also suggests that despite your best efforts, you can't quite "totally agree" with JaneBasingstoke.)

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  • 71. At 08:48am on 03 Mar 2011, rossglory wrote:

    #70 bowman

    "In that case, I presume you mean to deny the existence of "locked in" humans?"

    i don't deny their existence just point out that you cannot determine whether they have a 'rich mental life' or not. in a similar fashion to animals unable to communicate with humans.

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  • 72. At 11:03am on 03 Mar 2011, bowmanthebard wrote:

    bowmanthebard #70: In that case, I presume you mean to deny the existence of "locked in" humans?

    rossglory #71: i don't deny their existence just point out that you cannot determine whether they have a 'rich mental life' or not.

    We cannot tell with enough confidence to "turn off life support" of anyone who is in a deep coma and potentially "locked in". I don't trust brain scans -- personally, I think claims made by people who look at them are grossly exaggerated. But clearly some of them do, and we should err on the side of caution.

    in a similar fashion to animals unable to communicate with humans.

    But animals do communicate with humans, they just don't do it via language. And even the ones who don't communicate can be "read" as having various goals and belief-type states.

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  • 73. At 12:54pm on 03 Mar 2011, paul wrote:

    Finding a fail-safe method to fish our seas sustainably has nothing to do with caring for the welfare of our little fishy friends. It's about self-preservation, good farming techniques. As a source of protein they're invaluable to our species so in order to exist we need to take care of the resource. Yes, as an environmentalist I wish to see all species on earth with healthy, thriving populations, but I'm also a carnivore and not a hypocritical one!

    Bugs eat little bugs, big fish eat little fish, big reptiles eat little reptiles, humans eat everything - top of the food chain. That's the way life works.

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  • 74. At 2:38pm on 03 Mar 2011, bowmanthebard wrote:

    73. At 12:54pm on 03 Mar 2011, paul wrote:

    as an environmentalist I wish to see all species on earth with healthy, thriving populations

    So when you see a reservoir of industrial waste water covered with a thriving population of green slime, you think: "how excellent to see a thriving population of members of a species!"?

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  • 75. At 6:40pm on 03 Mar 2011, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @CanadianRockies #64

    This wasn't a family of vegans. They didn't give up meat. But there were two boys, and their first reaction on finding the rabbit hutch was to take the animals out of the hutch and start petting them. And my point was about foresight. Not about giving up meat per se.

    As for starved to death as hunter gatherers. Not as hunter gatherers they wouldn't, hunter gatherers do not hunt their pets (that includes their working animals).

    Perhaps you meant the situation with farmers and livestock, which is more complicated. But I have met farmers that are very pleased that they don't have to be directly involved in the slaughter of the animals they have raised.

    Incidentally the Korean dog situation is also complicated. If the appalling welfare situation was sorted out it would be more analogous to our pig farms. Dogs farmed for meat definitely aren't pets, although I presume rescued animals make normal pets.

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  • 76. At 6:42pm on 03 Mar 2011, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @bowmanthebard #74
    (@paul)

    Don't knock that green slime, Bowman. It might be helping to clean up the industrial waste. Bacteria are much better chemists than eukaryotes.

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  • 77. At 7:22pm on 03 Mar 2011, CanadianRockies wrote:

    75. JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    "This wasn't a family of vegans. They didn't give up meat. But there were two boys, and their first reaction on finding the rabbit hutch was to take the animals out of the hutch and start petting them. And my point was about foresight. Not about giving up meat per se."

    Sure. So, some recent Brits (with that cultural attitude) have a hard tiome killing what quickly became their 'pet' rabbits. Totally predictable but irrelevant to the big picture.

    But I do understand this. Killing an animal you know as an individual is much more difficult than killing an anonymous one... particularly when they are "cute" like rabbits. In fact, we once talked about raising rabbits for meat and decided not to for this very reason.

    "Not as hunter gatherers they wouldn't, hunter gatherers do not hunt their pets (that includes their working animals)."

    The only 'working animals' they had were dogs, and recently in North America (european) horses. And many cultures ate dogs and horses when necessary, and many ate dogs regularly or ritually - while others did not.

    If they had any other 'working animals' they were not hunter-gatherers, they were pastoralists or agriculturalists.

    "But I have met farmers that are very pleased that they don't have to be directly involved in the slaughter of the animals they have raised."

    Sure. Different strokes for different folks. Plus it is hard and awful work.

    "Incidentally the Korean dog situation..."

    Just threw that in to emphasize the cultural differences. Westerners gag at the thought of eating dogs. Wonder what the Koreans think of hagus or blood pudding or blue cheese?


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  • 78. At 11:55pm on 03 Mar 2011, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    @CanadianRockies #77

    "some recent Brits (with that cultural attitude) have a hard tiome killing what quickly became their 'pet' rabbits"

    You still don't get it. 2nd day. Before they had a chance to become their pets. Before. And well before the offspring of the preggers rabbit were ready for slaughter.

    "irrelevant"

    What, you mean like you making a big deal about the type of domestic animal used by hunter gatherers? I only used the phrase because hunter gatherers don't tend to have pets as just pets.

    "cultural differences"

    You seem to have a bigger problem with it.

    "hagus"

    I think the Scottish word you are thinking of is "haggis". Which has been banned by the US and allegedly gets smuggled across the Canada US border for Burns Night.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-12259126

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  • 79. At 00:26am on 04 Mar 2011, CanadianRockies wrote:

    #78 Well, Jane, I have no idea where this exchange is going, or really where it even came from. Misunderstandingland perhaps.

    In some cultures people have attitudes that makes it very difficult to kill cute things, or any creature they come to know personally, or for some people anything. Largely depends on their learned experiences.

    Interestingly enough some hunter-gatherers, particularly those who didn't have large seasonal travel ranges, did have pets. But that's another whole tangent.

    Now I know how to spell haggis!

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  • 80. At 09:47am on 04 Mar 2011, bowmanthebard wrote:

    JaneBasingstoke #76 wrote:

    Don't knock that green slime, Bowman. It might be helping to clean up the industrial waste.

    I'm not knocking anything except the idea that anyone can be "pro life" simpliciter. In reality, we are all specifically pro some forms of life and anti other forms of life. The near-useless concept of "biodiversity" is a saccharine (and therefore dishonest) way of papering over the struggle for existence that life unfortunately always entails.

    It isn't just a matter of taste -- people really misunderstand the causes and cures for "overpopulation" if they blinker themselves to the unavoidable "struggle" aspect of life..

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  • 81. At 09:50am on 04 Mar 2011, bowmanthebard wrote:

    78. At 11:55pm on 03 Mar 2011, JaneBasingstoke wrote:

    I think the Scottish word you are thinking of is "haggis". Which has been banned by the US

    They may have a point. Fairly recently my mother found a liver fluke in a haggis from a very well-known and respected chain of UK supermarkets. She's a zoologist and can distinguish flatworm-type things better than most.

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