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Open letter to Pedro the Fisherman

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Dear Pedro,

It is with considerable chagrin that I watch your various faces regularly hogging the television documentary limelight.

Your mouths are opening constantly, but very little common sense or reflections of intelligent thought ever emerge from any of them.

Your Sub-Saharan African villager’s face sadly informs me that fish stocks in your inland waterways have diminished to such an extent that only the occasional misadventuring minnow can now be caught by any of the many thousands of your fellow fishermen.

You tell me that you do not understand why it is so, and that it was not like that for your Grandpa, or for any of his ten sons who also went on to become fishermen.

Your South Pacific Atoll outrigger-canoeist’s face tells me that
reef-fish catches are in decline even though you’ve attempted to boost them with the regular use of dynamite.

You tell me that you do not understand why it is so, and that it was not like that for your Grandpa, or for any of his ten sons who also went on to become fishermen.

Your Oriental ocean-going trawler skipper’s face cries tears tinged with balance-sheet red when you tell me that increasing lengths of long-lines and nets are required each year to sustain your haul.

You tell me that you do not understand why it is so, and that it was not like that for your Grandpa, or for any of his ten sons who also went on to become fishermen.

Your weatherbeaten Australian mackerel-fisherman’s face angrily rejects Government proposals to financially compensate you as an incentive to leave the fishing industry, in order that the Great Barrier Reef and it’s fish stocks can be protected for future generations.

You tell me that you do not understand why it is so, and that it was not like that for your Grandpa, or for any of his ten sons who also went on to become fishermen.

That’s what you tell me Pedro.

In doing so, you fail to dignify the noble occupation of an outdoorsman and primary producer with these proclamations which reflect an ignorance of the laws of nature.  The Earth and it’s oceans were never a limitless resource of food to be plundered by ever-increasing numbers of human hunters and gatherers.

Agriculture since Neolithic times has been based on the premise that in order to reap, you firstly have to sow.  Did you honestly think your free-for-all fishing party was going to continue forever without the necessity of contributing anything towards it’s future sustainability?

Your party is over Pedro. I am sorry that you apparently cannot understand why it happened.

Mother Earth is speaking.

Listen to her Pedro.  Just listen.

Yours in concern for the future of all the world’s children,

GOF

Fruitbats and coco-nutters

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When, as a young man, I gained a very modest tertiary qualification, I went out into the world as a know-it-all, pain-in-the-arse little bastard.

Now those of you who occasionally stick your head into The Bucket  for a read might perhaps reasonably suggest that nothing much has changed, but I would beg to differ because I used to be much worse.

What has changed in the subsequent 40 years, is that I now understand that the lecturer's opinions, and the black and white texts I assiduously studied in my narrow field of interest, often bore only a minor and very tenuous connection to the kaleidoscopic colour of reality in the broader world.

I also learned somewhere along the way to be intensely self-critical, to understand how little I really knew, and that the sands of knowledge and "absolute certainty" were forever shifting.

My paper qualification was merely the key to the car of discovery,
and not a certificate automatically entitling me to provide advanced driving tuition to others.

Some environmental campaigners have yet to understand this.

Recently in Queensland three people were bitten by fruit bats from one colony which was subsequently proven to be carrying the potentially deadly-to-humans Australian Bat Lyssavirus.

A self-appointed spokesperson for the bats warned against proposals to remove the offending colony with an unconvincing assertion to the effect that;   "If you make them mad, they will give off more viruses",
as though we were to imagine them as skunks or octopuses with an inclination to secrete defence clouds, but in this case laden with infectious viral material.
In effect he was suggesting that we should be held to ransom, and our movement restricted, by a single colony of flying foxes.

Fruit bats in Queensland are often present in plague proportions.
It would not be thus without the farmers who, in the first place,  planted all the fruit orchards upon which the animals now feed.  
I will rarely endorse interfering unnecessarily with any of our native animals, but in this specific case, where our health is placed at risk, and their survival as a species is not threatened, we are entitled to run the agenda, not the bats or their spokespersons.

Some years ago a fresh faced environmentalist seriously suggested that the thousands of coconut trees lining the beaches of Australia's tropical north should be removed, on the grounds that the species was "not endemic" to the continent.

Ignoring, apparently, any consideration that the coconut tree is one of the most useful-to-human plants on earth.

Coconut seeds could conceivably have floated across the oceans and germinated in our sand hundreds or thousands of years ago.

How far would he have liked to wind back the clock of evolution?

For the greatest chance of finding environmental truth and common sense I will go no further than being advised by those like Sir David Attenborough who have the appropriate combination of education, wisdom and life experience, and the ability to see both the forest and the trees.

P. S. There may well be more to the flying fox story than that which was published. Fruit bats do not normally flap around attacking random humans unless, I suppose, they (the bats) are totally blind, short-sonared and therefore mistake a tall skinny man in a yellow raincoat for a very large banana.)

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