Wednesday, June 25, 2008


For centuries, plagues of jellyfish have come inshore every 10 or 12 years and lingered along the Côte d'Azur for periods of about four years.

This pattern has now changed.

The jellyfish have appeared each year for the past eight years in far greater numbers than before.

Some scientists and ecological campaigners point to a rise in sea temperature, linked to the warming of the planet.

Others blame a shortage of natural predators such as the bluefin tuna and the turtle, which have been driven almost to extinction by overfishing and pollution.

Professor Gabriel Gorsky of the Observatoire Océanographique at Villefranche-sur Mer, also points to changes in the wind and current patterns, changes which may also be linked to global warming.

Jellyfish live deep in the sea during the day but rise to the surface at night to feed. Abrupt changes in wind and current can then carry them onshore.

This year's jellyfish invasion coincides with a row between the European Commission and the French government and fishermen about alleged overfishing of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean.

Brussels ordered the fishery to close last week after calculating that the whole of the 2008 quota for European boats had already been caught.

Paris is pushing for an "emergency" reopening of the fishery.

Marine biologists warn that this could not only threaten the survival of the tuna; it could also prove uncomfortable for holidaymakers

Has no government ever thought to pay the fishermen to be retrained?

To pay them to sit at home even rather than wipe out yet another part of the very ecosystem we all need to survive?

Time for new thinking

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