Gutless Peace Activist Ponders Fishy Thoughts

Gutless Peace Activist, who writes often on here happens to be a good mate of mine, in fact his influence upon much of my thinking has been BIG…some might want to shot him now, but I love the guy! 🙂

Here is something he sent me –

your blog readers might be interested in the following…

we are always looking for the things ‘that anyone could do’ and, if everyone DID do, would make the world a just, compassionate and peace-filled place

cheers friend

G

Our family has been pondering a dilemma for some months.

You see, we regularly eat Nile Perch at our place. It is a beautiful, sweet white fish in the Barramundi family. But there is something bizarre and troubling about this fish.

After we had been eating Nile Perch and thoroughly enjoying it for some months, I asked our fishmonger where it came from, assuming it was being farmed somewhere in Australia. He told me the fish is caught by local fishermen on Lake Victoria in Africa (the Lake is shared by Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya), filleted and frozen there and flown to fish markets all around the world.
It reaches our table for one-third the price of a locally caught equivalent!

I was stunned, and did some homework. The fish was introduced from the Nile into Lake Victoria in the 1960’s and immediately set about taking over the entire ecosystem. It is a predatory fish and gradually all-but wiped out indigenous species in the Lake. A fishing industry grew with something of the same predatory instincts as the fish. It proved so “cheap” and attractive to Western consumers that regular transport services were soon flying in and out, sometimes bringing guns into Africa and taking fish out. Of course, local fishermen and workers cannot afford to eat what they catch, as they are paid a pittance for their hard labour.

Our fishmonger, who is a decent sort, nodded patiently when I began to articulate my conscientious concerns about all this. He reminded me that if people stopped buying the fish, the fisher-folk in Africa would be out of work.

True, but not the whole truth.

The best we could think of at the time was to put aside some money each time we bought the fish and send it off periodically to someone providing aid and development work in Uganda, Tanzania or Kenya. This we began to do.

Then, at last, the final piece fell in place!
Quaker Services Australia has a project on the fertile but degraded Lake Victoria shore system.
Local communities are assisted in establishing sustainable, organic farming “…leading to economic emancipation through food production”. Our periodic donation to this project through QSA (raised from the money we put aside each time we buy Nile Perch) means that our fish costs us twice what it used to – but it’s still comparatively cheap! – and we can make some small contribution to justice and fairness.

I told our fishmonger what we are doing. His eyes lit up and he said he would pass this idea on to other customers. And our two children are diligent in reminding us each week to put aside the money for the African fishermen.

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2 thoughts on “Gutless Peace Activist Ponders Fishy Thoughts

  1. I have declined to purchase Nile Perch for some time due to the way it is traded – I think that is an excellent idea though. I would love to see a big retailer take up ‘Fairly Traded Fish’ as a concept and place a premium on the price of the fish to support projects like the one mentioned.

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