I'm not a big fan of eating fish. I find the more I spend time in the sea, the more I want the sea life to peacefully grow and multiply. In fact, the more the merrier on any underwater adventure.
So in comes my son, 6 year old Ezra. Over the past 7 months or so, he has become an avid Shore Fisher! Yep, one of his favourite pastimes is grabbing his hook and line, squid bait, and heading off to the nearest beach with my friend, his fishing buddy. Not surprising, I guess, as his father's side of the family are well known Fishers, Deep, Jack and George Allen of Davy Hill.
Ezra's fish are sometimes too small. At times, he returns home ranting about his line falling between the rocks and loosing a 'big catch'. I cringe, and snap at him, " Did you take the line out of the sea?", knowing full well he probably couldn't have and that's another fishing line that will strangle a coral or a turtle. In this moment my heart sinks and my conscience worries that he is going against all that I advocate for. Why doesn't he pay more attention at Fish 'N Fins!?
Then I observe, he is paying attention. He is very aware and conscious of issues facing our ocean, and of good fishing practices. I hear he caught a baby stingray once and put it back in the sea, told his friend to leave the crab he caught, in the sea, as neither of them even eat crab. He is a firm believer in leaving sharks alone too, and thinks parrot fish aka Bala are far too cool to catch. He is more looking forward to his first snorkel of the reef, so he can get a glimpse of these algae eating, sand pooing, magical fish he hears so much about from me.
Good! He is listening! I can breathe a sigh of relief!
What's more, I am reminded of a few things too, as my 6 year old encourages me to think deeper.
We are so incredibly blessed to live on this beautiful Island of Montserrat, where we can catch what we eat - clean, organic, honest, seafood.
Our seafood is chemical free, GMO fee, has no antibiotics, hormone fee and high in Omega 3 & 6.
Learning to fish is an incredible gift and life/survival skill . As they say, give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. I've lived this over the past 7 months. There were days when I wondered what can we cook today, the cupboards empty of the usual options, and my purse empty. Then comes little Ezra with a few silver fish or a couple Cavali Jack's. Just enough to give us a tasty meal for a couple days.
As an advocate for all ocean life, my perspective has been enlightened.
Ezra's opinion on Montserrat's sea life is, "Mommy there isn't enough fish!". He compares Montserrat to Belize or the 'Palific' as he called it last night ( he means the Pacific Ocean). Often times, it is the marine parks that are being pictured in documentaries and none of these countries have lost as much reef as we have to siltation and volcanic damage.( let's face it these countries have a lot more reef!). As Ezra, watches TV, documentaries, and flicks through books, he sees significantly more fish numbers. He says," WOWWW, Mommy, I want to move there."
Shock, horror, he is 6 years old and he's ready to jump ship .. for more fish? Goodness grief, has he not inherited my good patriotism to this land? I get it though; more fish = more food; more fish = more fun; more fish = more skills, more fish makes for quite an incredible time swimming and snorkeling at sea; his next big hobby.
So, the advocate in me has renewed interest and vigor in helping my island get and keep more fish. Let's pass our Fisheries Policy & Act, improve the conditions of our fishers, invest more in Fish Aggregating Devices ( FADs), create a Marine Park or protected area(s), actively monitor our reefs, plant more mangroves, raise more awareness about our valuable natural resources and find solutions for a sustainable blue future.
The UN 's Decade of Ocean Science is fast approaching (2021-2030). Time to Think Big! I ask myself, what if we had more coral reefs? If Dubai created the Palm Islands, why can't Montserrat create more reefs? There is that matter of the ash sediments and moving currant's again, but, my Granny always told me, where there is a will, there is a way! I believe her and believe Science can help us too. Our goal here, is more fish, however many years it takes. As my Shero, Sylvia Earle would tell us, Montserrat may be the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean but, there is no Green without Blue. And hey, no one said the solutions would be easy; but we had better start thinking in, out and all over the box. There is a 'helluva' lot of work to do, but we CAN do it together! I'll have Ezra tell his people, and their people, will tell their people, and so it all