About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

My Complete Profile

Recent Posts
Happy Blog Day!
Stepford Wives
Squeeze Me
Something Fishy
Guilty Pleasure
Five Things Before I Die
A Cautionary Tale
In Praise of Older Women
Who Me?
The Gift

Links
1001 Dinners 1001 Nights
A Few of My Favourite Things
Abstract Gourmet
Apellation Australia
Becks and Posh
BurgerMary ATX
Cook (almost) Anything at least once
Cooking Down Under
Cook sister!
Cooked And Bottled In Brunswick
David Lebovitz
Deep Dish Dreams
Chef Paz
Chubby Hubby
Eating Melbourne
Eating With Jack
essjay eats
Food Lover's Journey
Gosstronomy
Grab Your Fork
I Am Obsessed With Food
I Eat Therefore I Am
Iron Chef Shellie
Just Desserts
Kalyn's Kitchen
Kitchen Wench
Lobstersquad
Matt Bites
Melbourne Gastronome
My Kitchen in Half Cups
Nola Cuisine
Not Quite Nigella
Nourish Me
Seriously Good
Souvlaki For The Soul
Stone Soup
Sunnybrae
Syrup and Tang
Steve Don't Eat It!
That Jess Ho
The Elegant Sufficiency
The Perfect Pantry
The View From My Porch
Thyme for Cooking
Tomato
Tumeric & Saffron
tummy rumbles
What I Cooked Last Night
where's the beef
WhiteTrashBBQ
Vicious Ange

Food Blog Resources
Food Blog S'cool
I Eat I Drink I Work
Kiplog Food Links

Food for Thought
Autism Victoria
Autism Vox
forget me now
Lotus Martinis
MOM - Not Otherwise Specified
St Kilda Today

Monday, September 04, 2006
A Difficult Question
I'm a little uneasy about writing this post, but I'm also uneasy about what happened last week, when someone, let's say a fisherman, shot forty fur seals on Kanowna Island, just off Wilson's Promontory, in Victoria's south-east. So before going any further, I want to make it clear that I do not condone in any way what happened, but the following should serve to highlight the differences between thinking in the country and city.

We were visiting an orchard yesterday on the Mornington Peninsula to buy some apples. My mate H had called me last week to let me know that he had some fish for us and knowing that he liked the apples from this orchard as much as us, we invited him to come along with us. H has been a fisherman all his life, as was his father and his father before him. His family have been fishing Western Port so long, that they can tell you about fishing from sailboats. My first ever fishing experience was with H's father J, and still recall the excitement I felt in catching my first fish with him.

Chatting with the farmer's mother E, we could see the twinkle of the waves of Western Port in the distance. The conversation moved on to the shooting of the seals and E expressed strong disapproval of the shooting. Pointing to H, I told E he was a fisherman and we could understand why the shooting occurred, at which point E's tone changed and she expressed sympathy towards whoever had done the deed, knowing that in all probability, it was a fisherman.

So why did they do it?

At first glance many people think that because fisherman and seals are after the same catch, that if some seals meat an untimely death, there will be more fish for the fisherman to catch. But this is not the reason. What happens is that seals chance upon a fisherman's nets to discover a motherlode of fish that cannot get away and enjoy the subsequent feast. Even though they get enough to eat, they cannot help themselves and will bite every fish in the net, making them unsaleable.

Seals are quite intelligent and soon learn that boats put the nets in place that give them a free feed, so they start to follow the boats. Soon the fisherman cannot set his nets without seals taking and ruining his entire catch and so an unspoken war has been raging between man and seals for decades. When I was young all the fishing boats that I knew of had a weapon of some sort and the fishermen all claimed they were for whenever sharks turned up in their nets; no-one wants to untangle a live, threshing shark with large sharp teeth. But the guns silent, subsidiary use was for putting an end to seal pilfering from the nets.

Put yourself in the fisherman's shoes for a moment. You make your living from catching fish, quite legally. A wild animal is taking and ruining your every catch, you have a family to support. If you were a farmer on land raising sheep and wild dogs were taking to your flock, you would shoot the dogs, no questions asked, no moral outrage. So why is it okay to shoot a wild dog but not a wild seal? The dog would argue that he has as much right to exist as anything else. And this is the dilemma we humans find ourselves in. In order for us to live, something has to die. This leads to the country/city paradox. Country folk understand life and death and are not squeamish about it, that's not to say they are in any way cruel, but they know first hand if you want to eat meat, an animal has to be killed, if another animal is eating the meat that you want to eat, chances are it will wind up dead.

In the city we do not have to think about killing an animal to eat, or to protect it from other predators. Someone else does that for us. We have long ago been removed from the realities of primary production. I saw on a food show not so long ago, a reporter crying when a cow he had selected for slaughter was dispatched. He was presented with some steaks from the beast but could not eat them because of the distress of what he witnessed, which was nothing more than an everyday occurrence. I wondered if he was starving hungry, with a gun, what would he have done then? Think about it if you eat meat yourself. You have not directly killed an animal but you have directly caused one to be killed.

I think the shooting of forty seals was an over reaction that could never be condoned, but even though I'm sorry whenever a seal is shot at the nets, I do understand it, though I desperately wish there was some other way. But whenever a white pointer shark lines up a seal to eat, it is completely untroubled by such considerations, it's just hungry.

Edited to add: Two men are facing an array of charges including hunting and destroying wildlife, injuring protected wildlife, using a gun to take wildlife and using a gun in a National Park. They are to appear in court on November 3, each facing 22 charges.
 
  posted at 10:46 am
  9 comments



9 Comments:
At 3:43 pm, Anonymous Tanna said...

I can certainly see the fisherman's point.

 
At 10:23 pm, Blogger pentacular said...

Neil, and the killing of children in various war zones for the sake of anothers ideology, are we indirectly responsible for that too? Can we understand a soldier lining up at a childs head? What animal bar human kills for purposes other than survival? hmmmmm

 
At 7:42 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi tanna, that was what I wanted to show, that the shooting of seals, as horrible as it sounds, is not senseless slaughter.

Hi pentacular, I promise that no young children were harmed in the writing of this post. Monkeys, mate, monkeys. Bears too. Lions have at it, as do some packs of wild dogs.

 
At 2:06 pm, Blogger Haalo said...

I think it might boil down to not all animals are equal - some have gained a certain status in our psyche.

 
At 9:00 pm, Blogger pentacular said...

Neil, all right you got me, but the question was not completely rhetorical. I actually have heard about the monkeys but not the bears, and the lions, well only a couple of documented cases of lions that actually fill their dens with their prey's bones after killing for recreation. Wild dogs too huh? So, the moral of the story is if there is a reason for slaughter its not senseless, but isn't recreation a reason? Or war? Or just because you happen to dislike dolphins or koalas? Has to be a good reason, or an economic one for slaughter? Seems like a grey area to me. Steve Irwin (recently deceased) once said that if an animal bit him it was his fault not the animals. I wonder if the seals felt better about being slaughtered knowing that they were a pest to a fishing trawler, "hey, we are pests you know, what are you all complaining about"
"but we are just getting our dinner, its natural and they are hauling tons of our aquatic bretheren in an unfair duel between man and fish. Why should we get shot for that"
"don't be a silly seal, don't you know your life is not worth that of a human and we have no right question human behaviour, so go and get shot NOW"

etc, see ya Neil, hehe

 
At 4:56 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi pentacular, I see that anthropomorphism is alive and well!

 
At 2:18 pm, Blogger Paz said...

You brought up a good point and shown the fisherman's point of view. But I still say no shooting. There has to be another way to discourage the seals apart from shooting them.

Paz

 
At 2:46 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi paz, I wish there was another way too. When we fish, sometimes we see seals sunbaking, drifting down the tide and it seems such a shame that these lovely creatures sometimes come to harm. However, I definitely don't agree with what the two fisherman did, it was a complete overreaction and they deserve to face the law.

 
At 9:12 am, Blogger gigi said...

I completely understand the frustration of the fishermen, but there has to be a better way to share the bounty of the sea. We are supposed to be the smarter creature, after all...you would think for once that we could come up with something that doesn't involve gun violence. But then again, we so rarely do.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home



Search


Recipe Categories
Soups
Salads
Vegetables
Poultry
Pork
Beef
Cakes & Desserts
Miscellaneous

Archives
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
May 2009
June 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009
January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
July 2012

Miscellaneous
AUSTRALIAN FOOD BLOGGERS
Prev ~ List ~ Random ~ Join ~ Next
Site Ring from Bravenet


Site Feed

counter easy hit

Credits
Blog Design by:


Image created by:
Ximena Maier

Powered by:


Photos, Original Recipes, and Text - (C) Copyright: 2005-2010
At My Table by Neil Murray, all rights reserved.
You may re-post a recipe, please give credit and post a link to this site.

Contact Me
Neil Murray

Follow messytable on Twitter