This morning I attended a natural history lecture in Cyprus presented by two marine biologists, Dr Antonis Petrou and his young assistant Vassilis. Their passion for preserving the health of the marine environment was evident – the area has been grossly overfished and the mammoth task now is to persuade the authorities to intervene and restore some balance.
Here are 3 of the quirkier things I learnt:
- The current outlook for the bluefin tuna is gloomy due to rampant overfishing. Vast sums of money change hands in the name of this fish. Global stocks are being rapidly depleted due to strong demand for sushi; the Japanese eat 80% of the bluefin tuna caught worldwide.
A bluefin tuna caught off the shores of Japan has recently sold for just over one million pounds (around $1.76 million). The winning bidder said the price was a little higher than he expected but that he’d soon recoup his outlay by serving it up in his chain of restaurants.
- Two trawlers off the southern coast of Cyprus plough up and down in a successful co-operation to gather fish. There is little water movement on the seabed of the Mediterranean sea and thus nutrients tend to fall naturally to the bottom and stay put. The first trawler drags a net which churns up the content on the seabed throwing nutrients up into the water above. As fish swarm in to devour this sudden food source the second trawler passes through the area thereby netting a fine catch.
The trawlers then do a 180 degree about turn and repeat the process.
- It is by no means unknown for the perennial British favourite meal of fish and chips to contain shark instead of the expected cod or haddock! Who knew?