Orion is clearly visible in the southeast in the evenings now, the hunter rising each night through the bare branches of trees as the deer behind our house snort and stomp off to find a place to sleep. I was thinking about how we’re now in the hunting season when I read an article about a fisherman in the town of Talamone, Italy, who’s gotten sculptors to create an underwater art gallery to stop fishing. Specifically the underwater sculptures are there to block trawlers which scrape the bottom, dredging up everything to harvest a few more fish and to do it more cheaply than traditional net fishing. Trawlers are illegal close to the coast but the local authorities weren’t doing anything to stop them, especially when they’d go out and do their trawling in the middle of the night, so a local fisherman named Paolo Fanciulli, who sounds like a pretty cool guy, started going after them himself. First he scared them away with a big spotlight, but that was only a temporary solution. Then he got the brilliant idea of sinking large blocks of marble in the bay to block the trawlers. And sculptors stepped up to make the blocks of marble works of art, like this one:
There are thirty-nine blocks in the bay now.
It’s not just preventing illegal fishing. It’s allowing sea grass, which traps large amounts of carbon and which had been destroyed by the trawlers, to come back and flourish, which, in turn, creates a healthy environment for fish which is what fishermen want.
Of course fishermen also pull fish out of the water and kill them because, hey, we’ve all gotta eat, and that’s just the nature of, well, nature: something has to die so something else can live, but there also has to be a balance, a harmony to it–a way to create space for new life. Trawling isn’t sustainable and it’s the only thing that should die permanently.