The South Australian pilchard industry was established in 1991. From its underpinning, it has become the largest fishery by weight in the area and has produced tons of catch in accordance with the total allowable commercial catch. However, annual catches in the fishery have fluctuated; until it was entirely impeded by the mass mortality events which had strikingly affected the pilchard population (“Ecological Assessment” 7). The said events could be attributed largely to the onset of tuna cage farming.
Tuna cages’ unutilized feed components, organic and inorganic, accumulate in the surrounding water columns and substantially alter the benthic environment Cheshire et al (2005). The toxic wastes which harm the ecological region, spread as far as 3000 km from the origin within a period of over 80 days, and most of these wastes emanate from tuna cages. On the other hand, the proposed Eco-tourism project which is entertaining tourists through “dolphin swims” presentations is neither a better idea.
According to a study conducted in a fish farm on the Sardinian coast in Italy regarding the feeding strategies of dolphins, they were observed hunting both the schooling and solitary prey in the fish farm( Lopez 1). Safe to say, dolphins residing on the same territory would result into less fish production for they are considered as prey by the dolphins. Moreover, the pilchards’ spawning season, which is from late May to early August, would somehow be disrupted by the constant arrival of tourists’ vessels in the area.
The decision to which company should the license be given must be based on an ecological principle. It is necessary to ensure that businesses to be established should operate on an ecologically sustainable and economically efficient manner, while still maximizing production. By now, it should be realized that implementing the Eco-tourism project would not severely impact the pilchard industry, thus, it should be favored over the tuna cage farming proposal.
First, the predatory concerns are part of the ecological food cycle and are apparently a natural process. Second, fish production might indeed lessen due to the affected spawning season, but that does not harm the south Australian coast. The benthic environment is preserved, and at the same time showcasing the tourists with the pilchard farm’s beauty through the residing dolphins.
Courtney from Study Moose
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