Notes from underground

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Archive for the tag “fishing”

The gills of the dolphin and Hemingway’s reputation

The Old Man and the SeaThe Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Yesterday afternoon I started to read The old man and the sea. I couldn’t remember if I had read it before, but as it is a short book it couldn’t do any harm to read it again. I think before I started but did not finish it. It’s about an old fisherman who has been unlucky for 84 days, and really needs to catch something. So he goes out to catch a big fish.

But it struck me as weird. I have this image of Hemingway as the grand macho hunting’, shootin’ and fishing type, who knows all there is to know about game animals and game fish, and yet here he is describing dolphins as having gills. It sticks out like a sore thumb. I’m reading a school edition, with notes. Surely there must be a note on that. But no, there isn’t. Is it just that the people who wrote the notes are equally ignorant, or that they don’t want to suggest any weakness in the great master?

And it strikes me that if Hemigway is so ignorant of such an elementary fact of marine biology as that, does the rest of what he writes count for anything at all? How can he write about an old man and the sea and its creatures when he is that ignorant?

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Give a man a fish

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

So runs a trite cliche that is often repeated, usually by people who favour capitalism, and yet it overlooks one of the fundamental realities of the capitalist system: most of the fish ponds have signs saying “Private property: no fishing”.

And that seems to be becoming true of sea fisheries as well.

ENVIRONMENT: Fighting for the Right to Fish:

Subsistence fishers were hoping that a new government policy, the Draft Policy for the Allocation and Management of Medium-Term Subsistence Fishing Rights, would address their plight.

A task team representing subsistence fishers, which was appointed by South African environmental minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk in 2007, were involved in developing the policy. But the draft policy released in December 2008 has been rejected by the task team.

The deal breaker was that the policy says allocation of fishing rights to subsistence fishers is a challenge in that marine resources have already been allocated to commercial fisheries.

In this case, government and big business have colluded once again to deprive people of a livelihood.

But perhaps the story can make us think twice about glibly trotting out the slogan about “Give a man a fish…” It’s rarely that simple.

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