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Saturday, 29 October 2016

FISHERMEN IN THE NORTH-EAST ATLANTIC: LIVING AT THE PACE OF THE TRAWL CATCH

(Pierre Vanneste)

LIVING AT THE PACE OF THE TRAWL CATCH
by Pierre Vanneste

With the doubling of the world population since 1960 and changes in eating habits, the amount of fish caught for human consumption has radically increased, reaching over 150 million tonnes a year - the equivalent of 5000 kilogrammes a second. Sixty per cent of this catch is wild fish.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation – the FAO – Europeans, for example, now eat an average of 27 kg of fish a year.

Huge factory trawlers plough the various fisheries, depending on the product sought, to supply major distribution outlets. This large-scale commercial fishing, also known as industrial fishing, is heavily subsidised by public funds.

Industrial fishing operations receive an average of 187 times more diesel fuel subsidies per year than small-scale fishers, despite generating less employment – with 200 industrial fishers for every 1000 tonnes of fish as compared with 2400 small-scale fishers for the same volume. Moreover, industrial fishing is much more devastating in terms of discards.

The industrial trawlers of today are out-and-out floating factories where the work is wholly designed and organised around production line methods. The seafarers remain at their workplace for 27 days. During this time, their lives, eating and sleep patterns depend on the work to be done.

The north-east Atlantic is the world’s fourth largest fishery. Mainly exploited by European ship owners, this area accounts for over 70 per cent of EU catches.

Photojournalist Pierre Vanneste spent two 15-day stretches at sea with industrial fishermen, to report on the day-to-day reality of life on board.

Read the full story here: