by Valeska Diemel, The Black Fish Director, Germany.
The Black Fish is an independent marine conservation organisation founded in 2010 by Wietse van der Werf. The group works to bring together a network of volunteer pilots, divers and everyday activists to end illegal and destructive fishing practices and safeguard species in the European seas.
In this Soapbox article, one of their volunteers, Valeska Diemel, introduces us to the scale in which humans are disrupting the balance of our oceans.
Our oceans are ruled by a group of animals that rarely comes to mind when we think about ocean wonders. It‘s not the whales, turtles or dolphins that are dominating the big blue – it‘s fish. They have adapted to all kinds of habitats and can be found in every single part of our oceans, from colourful coral reefs to the desert of the open ocean up to the deepest waters in over 8 kilometers depth. Fish do not only come in all shapes and colours, they also have an unbelievable variety of characters and skills.
The crocodile fish has infinite patience, lurking for prey on the seabed whereas the swordfish is a restless traveler, migrating thousands of kilometres through the open ocean with swimming speeds of up to 90 km/h. The white-spotted pufferfish is a Japanese artist, creating wonderful mandalas in the sand to attract his beloved‘s attention. Male clownfish are caring for their eggs tirelessly, cleaning and ventilating them until the offspring hatch after ten days time. The icefish lives in the crystal clear waters of Antarctica, that can get as cold as -2°C, protecting itself with antifreeze protein in its blood. And in the deep sea lives the barreleye, a fish with a transparent head so that it can actually see prey in the water above through its skull.
Sadly, most of these astonishing skills and likeable character traits remain unnoticed...Being the most important marine resource on the planet, fish are the target of the most effective killing machinery ever developed by humans: industrial fishing. Everywhere on this planet floating factories are emptying our ocean with huge nets and billions of hooks. Within the last 60 years, our technology has been surpassing every single skill and adaptation fish have developed in the last 500 million years.
Industrial fishing can‘t be compared to any other form we‘re exploiting non-human animals today. Nowhere else are so many individuals dying every day unnoticed and unheard. One reason that this can happen is that it takes place completely out of sight, far out on the open ocean where nobody is watching. The other reason is that humans don‘t feel connected to fish like they feel to mammals – and without this connection, compassion is impossible.
I wish more people would be able to see fish like I do. Fish are smart, they are loving parents, caring partners and fearless adventurers. Fish feel. So please, don‘t turn a deaf ear to their silent screams and help us to protect their home and future.
For more information and details on how you can get involved go to TheBlackFish.org.
The Black Fish is one of many campaign groups that receive funding from Charity Pot. Find out more about the groups we fund here.