Ausmarine – April 2012
The entire maritime industry worldwide is being affected in varying ways and to varying degrees by various members of what can be loosely termed “the green movement”.
Anyone, even if their brain is only partially engaged, realises that all of us, both ashore and afloat, need to lift our game as far as the environment is concerned.
Believing that my brain is fully engaged in the environmental consciousness department, I will declare an interest here. I was one of the founders of and, for four years, chairman of the Australian Marine Environment Protection Association (AUSMEPA). I am currently the “Roving Ambassador” of its international parent, INTERMEPA.
I am a passionate believer in the need for a much cleaner and totally sustainable global marine environment. It is from that point, though, that I and many of our readers depart from what is becoming the “orthodox” global green movement.
Unlike many of the other green organisations, especially the likes of Greenpeace, WWF, Sea Shepherd, Pew Foundation, Australian Conservation Foundation, The Wilderness Society, The Australian Marine Conservation Society and the Australian Greens Party, I am naturally pro-business. I believe that the environment can be improved and can enjoy a sustainable future without destroying businesses to achieve those ends.
Indeed, I am certain that the vast majority of business people believe the same as me. I know there are rogues in business just as there are in the green movement. However, except for that small number of rogues, most marine and other businesses benefit from a clean and sustainable environment. Most people I know are well aware of that and are doing what they can to improve the environment.
There are, fortunately, a number of reasonable, rational and practical marine environment improvement organisations that are doing an excellent job with the support of the business sector. I have in mind organisations such as the World Ocean Council, Ecovision, Project Kaisei, Clean Up Australia and the various MEPAs. They are all strongly pro-business and equally pro the environment.
Many of the zealots from what I call the “extreme green” sector believe that it is impossible to render unto both God and Caesar in the context of the environment. They, in their blinkered, short-sighted way are convinced that business is the enemy of the environment. Those green zealots act with no thought for the social and economic consequences of their activities.
I have already mentioned the rogues on both sides of the argument. However, I should point out that the group having the worst effect on the environment, especially the marine environment is our old friend “the man in the street”. All of us should be trying to educate the man in the street and his children as to how they can stop polluting our marine environment.
I note that even Greenpeace admits that at least 85 percent of marine pollution is land sourced. I and my INTERMEPA colleagues believe that 95 percent would be a more accurate figure.
Obviously, at five or ten percent, maritime activity causes more pollution than it should. However, equally obviously, the man in the street and the farmer in the field is a far bigger problem. They need to be educated and encouraged to improve their habits.
This is precisely what the MEPAs and a number of other rational, responsible marine environmental organisations are doing. Instead of attacking businesses, ship owners and even small scale fishermen, who are mostly innocent, the undergraduate extremists in the wider green movement would be far better off focusing their efforts on the real marine polluters.
We certainly need Environmental Impact Statements for new projects but, equally, we need Socio-economic Impact Statements to consider the social and economic consequences of so-called green initiatives.
The maritime industry generally needs to do a lot more to encourage rational environmentalism and to expose and eliminate the spectre of “undergraduatish” extremism. If it does not, it could well see itself going the way the western developed world’s fishing industry has over the past two decades.