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Category: Inside Rapanui
It's an underground activity - not everyone's cup of tea. It's cold, scary, and difficult to get good at. You've got to be good at swimming, to dive to depths on only a single breath of air.
And you've got to do that in silence, maybe in rough seas or fast tides. When you finally get to the bottom, in low visibility and low light, you have to hide yourself in between rocks, caves or kelp, covering yourself in seaweed. Then you wait....
Up to a minute might go by, as your lungs start to burn, and your stomach starts to convulse... if you're lucky, maybe - just maybe - you'll have been stealthy enough to not scare off a sea bass. As the bass cruises in from the right, looking for prey with a mean frown and huge mouth, you carefully raise up your harpoon, trying not to rattle him... and bang. He's been speared and he is angry. Quickly rushing up to the surface, breath and bubbles busting from your nose, you break the surface, gasp for air, grab your knife and quickly dispatch the fish. Hooking him on to your belt, lying back and breathing slowly, recovering before another dive.
This is spearfishing - through our eyes outside Rapanui HQ.
And it's a touchy subject, after all - animal-lovers may note that spearfishing is simply driving a metal pole through a living creature and enjoying it. The thing is, too often these days we're detatched from where our food comes from, how it was produced and - with meat and fish, we often forget that living animals were born, reared and killed specifically to provide that dinner. Many people today simply do not have the skills, knowledge or understanding necessary to feed themselves properly without a supermarket. In the 21st century, dinner comes from a machine, wrapped in plastic, origins unknown.
The commercial fishing industry does a valuable job, feeding billions in this way. However the nature of the detatched supply chain just doesn't make for responsible, sustainable demand and supply. Fact: In the last decade, in the north Atlantic region, commercial fish populations of cod, hake, haddock and flounder have fallen by as much as 95%. According to a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate, over 70% of the world’s fish species are either fully exploited or depleted. (UN,Overfishing: a threat to marine biodiversity).
A responsibile spearfisherman will only catch what he needs, and what he can eat. He understands the ecology of the marine environment. There's no by-catch. Only one single fish is targeted at one time. Surely this must be the most sustainable, environmentally-friendly way to eat fish?
It's got to be better than the alternative...
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