02 September 2007

What can and has to be done, so that common dolphins will survive?

I could name a number of management actions likely to benefit dolphins and the marine environment: Marine Protected Areas, fishery reserves (areas closed to fishing), strict enforcement of the existing laws (much of the fishing out there is illegal), and so on. But we should avoid just blaming the governments and seeing ecosystem destruction as the result of somebody else’s choices and activities.

We are responsible, too. As voters, in the first place. At the last political elections have we voted ‘with our wallet’, or have we attempted to shift the centre of gravity towards a more sensible environmental policy? Have we ever tried to reduce our own consumption rates, recycle, and make our lives a little more sustainable? Ultimately, the ongoing lack of respect towards the marine environment results from our own desires and demands. People sitting in their comfortable car and never considering taking a train instead of an airplane should consider that a link might exist between their own behaviour and air pollution, or even climate change. Those who enjoy eating swordfish and tuna at the restaurant may want to think about the implications for the marine environment.

Whilst there are practical and feasible actions that can at least stop the decline of common dolphins in some areas (at Kalamos this would include an immediate ban of the most detrimental fishing activities), I think that we should realize that damage to the marine environment is also a result of our life styles and collective habits. Changing our own behaviour and giving up something felt as desirable can be as pleasant, and even more fulfilling, than increasing our consumption rates. The reward consists in knowing that we are part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. We do not only blame others for declining biodiversity and beauty all around us. We are actually doing our best to protect the things we treasure, and we enact consistent behaviour. Our choices might even influence those of others and eventually turn into new behavioural trends.

Giovanni Bearzi

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