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Reflections on life at sea


Who won the Cod War?
Redmond O'Hanlon Writer
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Look, it’s a really good thing that the UK lost the Cod War. Iceland is an example to absolutely everybody. That vast place, that offshore, it’s run like a ranch. That’s why full-sized cod come into Heathrow every night on Iceland Air for our fish and chips. Why? Because they won the war. Thank God, thank cod. Now if they have an inspector, they have a very, very good system. You bring in everything, you don’t bung anything overboard. There’s no waste. It was terrible chucking skates overboard and so on. You bring it all in, and if you meet your quota, you’re a good skipper like Jason, eventually you’ll be able to buy somebody who hasn’t met their quota. And so you get fewer and fewer and more efficient boats in your trawler fleet, and every single one has an inspector on board. So if your codlings... I mean, if you’re getting fish which are small, or you’re getting really pregnant fish, full of eggs, that’s it, fishing banned from that area, that particular area. And that’s the cod nursery for next year. It changes, you see. But it’s managed, it’s sustainable. Every inch of the ocean, I’m afraid, despite all one’s free-for-all instincts, should be owned and managed. There’s no incentive for somebody like Jason to look after stocks when he can see a Spanish trawler with minute mesh nets coming up behind him. Those guys get arrested by the one or two Fisheries Patrol vessels there are, taken into port, fine £75,000. I mean, nothing to them. The Spanish are clearing it all out, every trawler man will tell you.

British author Redmond O’Hanlon writes about his journeys into some of the wildest places in the world. His travels have taken him into the jungles of the Congo and the Amazon, he has faced some of the toughest tribes alive today, and has sailed in the hurricane season on a trawler in the North Atlantic. In all of this, he explores the extremes of human existence with passion, wit and erudition.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: Spain, Atlantic

Duration: 2 minutes, 12 seconds

Date story recorded: July - September 2008

Date story went live: 11 August 2009