Sea monsters // France
Winter in the North Atlantic. The black flag flutters over a ship’s deck where a frenetic activity is taking place today. The crew members are getting ready on their posts while the instructions crackle through the radios.
Under the bosun’s orders, the crane moves two rubber speed boats towards the water, leaving them floating on both sides of the ship. The deckhands deploy a rope ladder, and the boats approach to pick us up and start the first action of Operation Ocean Killers.
“We are on a chase with Sea Shepherd…”
Shortly after, the wind is howling in my ears, and the waves splash on my face. Salty drops enter through my lips, giving me the taste of the surface through which we are moving at full speed, with no target in sight yet.
The silhouette of our mothership -the Age of Union- follows us, advancing over the wavy horizon. Its vigilant presence is comforting and reinforces the necessary determination to pursue the point flashing on the radar screen.
We are on a chase with Sea Shepherd. We have come to hunt sea monsters. We are approaching the first one.
Some might think that sea monsters do not exist – that they are only legends. But we have seen them.
Ruthless murderers with enormous bodies and kilometric tentacles: seiners, longliners, trawlers… Different names for the 4.6 million steel beasts that empty the world seas at a rate of 260,000 tons per day.
But the official figures indicate that almost half of all these catches are regurgitated to the sea, already dead.
Annually, about 300,000 whales and dolphins, 250,000 turtles, 300,000 seabirds and millions of fish without commercial value are collateral victims of these sicarios. Sicarios paid to satisfy our insatiable appetite for fish.
“… steel beasts that empty the world seas …”
On a few occasions, the magnitude of the perpetrated ecocides produces such social discomfort that governments have to expel the most vicious monsters from their national waters.
Now it is our turn to unravel the secrets of the fishing industry and harass its fleet until they leave the French coast.
And so we do, chasing the second-largest supertrawler on the planet, the Margiris, which runs away after being caught red-handed undertaking illegal practices.
“… our turn to unravel the secrets of the fishing industry…”
“… not the only threat to marine biodiversity.”
All in all, the rapacity of the fish-eating monsters is not the only threat to marine biodiversity. There are other species of creatures whose vileness is not so obvious but whose cruelty is equally terrifying. We talk about the rippers, commonly known as windmills.
With their gregarious habits, one can find them in large colonies along the continental coasts, occupying the natural enclaves that once resisted urbanization. Their key habitats are located in migratory corridors and take over the resting and feeding zones of birds arriving from all over Europe.
The rapid expansion of these bloodthirsty vermins has been favoured by a fame of sustainability and energy independence, both fancy and alluring concepts nowadays.
Promoted by the energy giant Iberdrola, the off-shore wind farm in the Bay of Saint-Brieuc -French Brittany- is only one out of seven planned on the national coasts. Observing its execution allows us to understand how we had reduced the climate struggle to a mere business opportunity.
Windmills may be the symbol of the energy transition but the fight against climate change cannot be detrimental to biodiversity protection – especially of marine ecosystems, as the oceans are the major climate regulators.
In the same way that the response to famine is not to build more fishing boats, the answer to climate challenges is not greater industrialization. On a planet with already overexploited resources, the only solution is the simplest: reduction, degrowth and austerity.
Otherwise, if our species does not learn to moderate consumption, the monsters will continue to thrive – by land, sea and air.
“… if our species does not learn to moderate consumption, the monsters will continue to thrive…”
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