I’m here in the high arctic waters off Svalbard (78º N; way up there!) as a guest for a few days aboard Greenpeace’s ship Arctic Sunrise. I wonder if we’re doing the right thing.
We’re here because warming waters have brought cod and other valued fish northward, and upon them are huge fishing boats capable of following to the end of the Earth, dragging the nets that have ruined seafloors and depleted fish in many parts of the world.
We are here to call for a balance between exploitation and protection. We’re here “bearing witness,” which means getting close to working trawlers and taking lots of photos.
But while zooming around trawlers in our speedboat, a troubling thought kept recurring: What gives us the right? Is it wrong-headed to want to protect the seafloor? Here are these ships catching food for people and we’re saying, “This far, no further.” They want food and jobs and money. We speak of deep anemones and sea-pens; we worry about fragile corals.
Are we doing something valid or just harassing these fishing crews? Are we doing enough good to justify it? Where is the line?