Francis Meyrick

A Blip on the Radar (Part 27A) “Musing about Mother Earth “

Posted on May 6, 2011

Photo by Wayne Sutherland

A Blip on the Radar

Part 27A: “Musing about Mother Earth “

A) Environmental issues

Most people are vaguely aware of the many threats to our little planet home we call “Earth”. Depending on your outlook, you care a lot, a little, or not at all.It’s hard sometimes to even begin to grasp the enormity of the stakes. All we can say with a certainty is that Man has it within his power to -at least temporarily – alter his surroundings very dramatically. Often for the worse.
You’ll notice I qualified that statement cautiously. “At least temporarily”. Why?

My personal opinion holds that Man is an extraordinarily short sighted and limited creature. And also stunningly arrogant. We forget that Mother Nature, or Planet Earth, or our environment, has been around for many millions of years. Our planet has raged with volcanic fires, frozen under miles of ice, and been swept by all engulfing tsunamis. This little rock, hurtling through Space and Time, is being bombarded with dangerous ultra violet rays. She has seen – almost overnight – the wholesale demise of previously arrogantly dominant species. All of a sudden… things changed. Our planet survived. Altered, changed, matured perhaps… But she survived.

How now these strange, two legged creatures?
That exist a mere instant, and are gone? That repeatedly fail to show respect for the endless cycles of Time? That repeatedly demonstrate a strange lust for power, conquest, dominance, wealth… even at the obvious cost to their fellow creatures and their Ancient Mother?
And so it is with our Oceans. Those vast expanses of our planet, that feature in most minds as irrelevant wastelands of wet. The Oceans, I tell you, are lush gardens. If you ever have the privilege of learning how to scuba dive, you will quickly fall in love with this new dimension. I have dived all over the Oceans, often and unwisely alone (I had no companions), and marveled at the diversity of Life. The richness and variety of the species of creatures that inhabit our dwindling rain forests, is only a small fraction of the bewildering variety of Life in the Eternal Seas. It is a different world down there, when you swim with sharks, laugh with the clown fish, marvel at the Manta Rays, and take in the bewildering variety of colors of soft, swaying corals.

It is a different world down there, as, sadly, you swim along and over the wreckage of World War Two fighter aircraft, ships and weaponry. And it is as if, even after all these years, you can hear the echoes of the bombs raining down, unleashed by Man upon Fellow Man. You can hear the screams of the dying, and sense the terror brought on by flames and burning oil, by bullets and high explosives. How many men died, trapped in those rusting Japanese hulks in Truk Island? As water rushed in, how many men gasped for their last breaths of air? And that dive bomber lying quietly in the soft mud of Agana harbor, with the tropical fish quietly exploring the silent gun turrets, did the young men get out in time? I don’t know. But I know one thing: that Our Mother watches quietly over these tragic scenes of bygone hatred. Our Mother washes away the screams in gentle tides of purifying water. Our Mother gently covers the torn metal with soft sand and pale white corals. Our Mother survived. Altered perhaps, but supreme. And her sad lament is heard in the quiet, rhythmic slap of the waves overhead.
Her quiet judgment is spoken on the Absurdity of Man and his Eternal Wars….
And so it is with some of the most magnificent creatures that flourished for so very long in the gardens of our memories. The Yellow Fin Tuna, the Big Eye tuna, the Skip Jack, and their endangered cold water cousin, the Blue Fin Tuna. I have swum with all of them, except the Blue Fin. They bothered me not, and gracefully awed me with their size and the vivid brightness of their colors. They thrilled me with their speed, and their ability to change direction effortlessly. They were beautiful, distant, vibrant, alive, meaningful… And then they were lying dead on the lower working deck.

People have to eat. The world has to eat.
I have no time for the shallow, trendy environmentalist, who demonstrates a convenient selective reasoning. Those who verbally furiously denounce tuna fishing and the use of helicopters and speedboats, sonar and bird radar. With much indignation. Whilst casually bopping a few cans of tuna into their shopping basket, at the local Walmart, or tucking in delightedly into a tuna salad sandwich at Subway’s. That to me is just childishness. About as sensible as the protesters I saw a week after the BP oil spill. Having driven all the way down from Chicago in their Cadillacs and gas guzzling Dodge Ram 2500 pickup trucks, there they stood by the side of the road, holding up signs against drilling and oil exploration. Demanding a total ban.
I pulled over and wound down the window. How on earth did they expect the Nation to run a modern advanced economy without Oil, and drilling and exploration? I wanted so much to yell:

“Hey Missus! Have you thought about a windmill on that thing and see how fast you can go…?”

But I was in company uniform. I bit my tongue, and wound the window back up.
The world has to eat. People have to eat. The bounty of the Oceans is a legitimate target. And such fishing will take into use all the latest technology. Do you seriously expect a boat full of thousands of little Chinese with fishing rods and worms on their hooks? To give the fish a sporting chance??
The issue is not the hunt. That’s a given. The issue is the sustainability. And the enforcement of protective policies. And here is a very important point:


Many of the richest tuna fishing grounds, are not in the middle of the open ocean, where any fisherman from any nationality may go, unhindered and unlicensed. On the contrary, many of these choice fishing grounds are within the economic zone of local nations.


To many of these island nations, the income from fishing licenses represents their biggest single source of income!

It’s not just Mother Earth who deserves respect. And who punishes dis-respect, when Man disturbs the balance of Nature. It’s not just the concerned environmentalist who rightly worries about over fishing, but can seemingly do little about it. Those nations with an economic stake in the sustainability of the Tuna, have a tremendous amount to lose.
And this brings me to a conundrum I have never understood:

Conundrum #1: The fishing licenses I have seen and read through, all incorporated a provision that the host nation reserved the right to place an observer on board any tuna fishing vessel. At the ship owner’s expense. The observer even had to be compensated at a hefty rate, again at the ship owner’s expense. Despite this… in all the years I was out there, I only once encountered an observer on my ship, and that was for one six week tour.

The question then arises, what good such an observer potentially can achieve. To answer that, I need to tell you a story…

(to be continued) (CLICK here)

Francis Meyrick

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Last edited by Francis Meyrick on May 19, 2016, 6:07 am

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