Consumerism, Economics, Food Shortages, Society — by Alex Martin September 26, 2012
Some time back, in the 1960s, someone had the brilliant idea to introduce Nile Perch into Lake Victoria. The voracious predator soon went to work eating everything, until there was not much left in the entire lake but Nile Perch and crocodiles.
But there’s always an upside to these things, isn’t there? According to Wikipedia, "The fish’s introduction to Lake Victoria, while ecologically negative, has stimulated the establishment of large fishing companies there. In 2003, Nile perch earned 169 million euro in sales to the EU. Another income is the sport fishing tourism in the region of Uganda and Tanzania which aim to catch this fish." Funny how ecological negatives can be so economically positive, eh?
This booming multinational industry of fish and weapons has created an ungodly globalized alliance on the shores of the world’s biggest tropical lake: an army of local fishermen, World Bank agents, homeless children, African ministers, EU-commissioners, Tanzanian prostitutes and Russian pilots. — DarwinsNightmare.com
Now I’m sure the average burger-munching, TV-hypnotized, couch-ape would think "That’s gotta be a good thing!" and go back to sleep, and maybe it’s a matter of perspective, because there’s another highly profitable industry making a killing from this disaster. Huge Jet planes, including Soviet made Ilyushin Il-76 cargo planes fly in to carry the processed fish back to European supermarkets. But the fish are just back load; the real cargo is what they carry in to the uncontrolled Mwanza airfield in Tanzania. Can you guess? Machine tools, perhaps? Farming machinery? Wheelbarrows, shovels, rakes, watering cans? Children’s toys?
The film opens with a Soviet made Ilyushin Il-76 cargo plane landing on Mwanza airfield in Tanzania, near Lake Victoria. The plane came from Europe to ship back processed fillets of Nile Perch, a species of fish introduced into Lake Victoria that has caused the extinction of hundreds of endemic species.
Through interviews with the Russian and Ukrainian plane crew, local factory owners, guards, prostitutes, fishermen and other villagers, the film discusses the effects of the introduction of the Nile perch to Lake Victoria, how it has affected the ecosystem and economy of the region. The film also dwells at length on the dichotomy between European aid which is being funneled into Africa on the one hand, and the unending flow of munitions and weapons from European arms dealers on the other. Arms and munitions are often flown in on the same planes which transport the Nile perch fillets to European consumers, feeding the very conflicts which the aid was sent to remedy. As Dima, the radio engineer of the plane crew, says later on in the film: the children of Angola receive guns for Christmas, the children of Europe receive grapes. The appalling living and working conditions of the indigenous people, in which basic sanitation is completely absent and many children turn to drugs and prostitution, is covered in great depth; because the Nile perch is fished and processed for export, all the prime fillets are sold to European supermarkets, leaving the local people to survive on the festering carcasses of the gutted fish. As to why the local fish can’t be sold to the domestic market to counter the impending famine (local news reports relayed in the film indicated Northern and Central Tanzania were facing famine), one fish processing factory manager explains "it is too expensive". — Wikipedia
Watch the documentary. I recommend it, but you might need some chamomile tea…. It made me hopping mad when I first saw it. Still does.
- Why are the FAO and the EBRD Promoting the Destruction of Peasant and Family Farming?
- The Peasants Are Revolting
- Food Miles, or ‘Fair Miles’
- Orchestrating Famine – a Must-Read Backgrounder on the Food Crisis