Dogger Bank rewilding-and a deeper truth

If you had visited the Dogger Bank in the north sea in 1830, you could have pulled up a tonne of fresh halibut in a day. If you look at the combined catch of that fish for the whole of 2022, it amounts to a miserable 2 tonnes per year. Why is that? Because all the halibut, and just about every other living thing have been eliminated by decades of brutal, efficient and utterly unsustainable trawling, and other crazed fishing methods, which have reduced it to the marine equivalent of the Sahara desert.

Yet Charles Clover, writing in the Guardian,[1] has some good news. By an accident of Brexit, the British Government has been forced to protect 12000 km2 of the bank. There is a chance wildlife may recover. If the success of the Lyme Bay project is anything to go by, there will be an enormous diversification of marine life. Perhaps even more fish to catch-an outcome beyond the cognitive horizons of many free market theorists.

Because for many decades western populations have been dragged to worship at the altar of unfettered free markets. To exalt the kind of stripe shirted, hypermasculine free wheeling go getters of the sort personified in Wall Street or The Wolf of Wall Street. To whom the highest, shortest term profit is the greatest good of the greatest number. And that anyone who asks rather plaintively about the possible human, social or environmental costs is regarded at once as a”nut job” or a communist (and is often implied to be of a certain suspect sexuality to boot).

Well now the evidence is in. Regulation saves markets from themselves. More fish. More jobs. A cleaner world. No it isn’t communism, it’s more like putting brakes on a car-the benefits are clear to all but the most juvenile type of mind. The battle over marine protection is far from won. There will be fleets of hostile fishing vessels straining to get into the Dogger Bank from now on, longing to reduce it back to nothing in weeks. But a start has been made. And it points the way to bigger things to come.

#fisheries #dogger bank #free markets #sustainability north sea #lyme bay #sussex kelp forest

Charles works for the blue marine foundation whose home site is


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