From The Globe and Mail in Canada:
OCEAN TRAWLING HIGH FUEL COSTS
Threats to trawling give one species of deep-sea fish unintended protection
Special to The Globe and Mail
July 31, 2008
High fuel costs and the rise of the Canadian dollar are crippling British Columbia’s ocean trawling industry, with the unintended effect of protecting one of the province’s least known and most vulnerable deep-sea fish.
The species is the longspine thornyhead, a type of rockfish that has adapted to the crushing water pressure and near-zero-oxygen environment found a kilometre below the surface. Harvested by bottom trawlers primarily off the west coast of Vancouver Island, these fish can survive five months between meals, live up to 50 years, and possess eyeballs so unusually bulbous and leering that fishermen refer to them as “idiotfish.”
“B.C.’s bottom-trawl fisheries are among the best managed in the world, but this is not one of them,” says fisheries analyst Scott Wallace of the David Suzuki Foundation who has been calling for a moratorium on the longspine thornyhead harvest since March. “This is a case where high fuel prices have achieved conservation gains faster than anything else.”
Thornyheads are caught by a fuel-intensive fishing method known as bottom trawling, in which a weighted net is dragged along the ocean floor. Fishing for longspine thornyheads is particularly sensitive to fuel prices because of the need to run an onboard freezer (which requires a separate engine), and the need for longer tows because the fish are not concentrated in dense schools.