On the 14th June 2018, the Prime Minister announced a disastrous measure which will allow foreign industrial vessels to fish in our shallow waters. At ELI Africa, we are strictly against industrial fishing since this practice will destroy our marine ecosystem.
This measure ensures the destruction of our lagoons’ marine ecosystem. Commercial fishing is a complete lack of mercy towards the the marine environment where giant industrial ships use advanced technology to detect fish and employ baleful fishing methods.The most harmful of them is bottom trawling, an industrial method using enormous nets weighing down with heavy ballast which are dragged along the sea floor, raking up or crushing everything in their way, from fish and bycatch to coral reefs. Overfishing can wreak the ecological balance and disturb the food chain.
Bycatch refers to all the forms of marine life caught unintentionally while catching other fish. Bycatch can include the wrong size of the target species, other species that are not eaten or for which there is no market and banned or rare species such as certain birds, turtles and marine mammals accidentally caught and then discarded into the sea, dead, either because the fishing boat is not licensed to bring them to land or because there is no space on the boat.
The fishing practices will also wipe out corals which protect the shoreline from storms and surge water. As a result, the precious ecosystem services provided by coral reefs like coastal protection and revenue through tourism might be lost.
Large areas of the seabed, where aquatic animals look for food and shelter, are crushed and flattened. The biggest nets used for bottom trawling have a mouth the size of a rugby pitch and leave scars on the seabed more than 4 kilometers long. The damage caused to the ecosystem can be permanent.
Overfishing by these foreign vessels could very well reduce the biodiversity of the fishes available in our seas. More than 30 percent of the world’s fisheries have been pushed beyond their biological limits and are in need of strict management plans to restore them. Unlike the foreign vessels, fishermen actually care about the natural habitat of the fishes for they rely on the fishes and their ability to reproduce sufficiently to earn a living. Although the government only allowed those foreign vessels to fish in our seas so that the catch be put on sale locally, this can never really be ensured and there is no limit to the amount of fish that can be caught. This type of fishing can possibly annihilate Mauritius’ natural marine ecosystem.