The Discovery Channel should be ashamed of itself for turning the deliberate extermination of a majestic species into entertainment. I’m referring to the series, “Swords,” which glorifies the various captains and crews whose pursuit of swordfish –“hunting for giants,” as the network’s Web site terms it – makes it ever more likely that these remarkable and beautiful creatures will have disappeared from the oceans within the space of a couple more generations.
Watching them taking baby Swordfish and “long-lining” – a technique that snares a lot of other species like tuna and sharks as well as the sought-after swordfish—made me feel so sick that I eventually had to turn off the show. And don’t forget – I come from a family of commercial fishermen, and usually have nothing but the greatest respect for people in that line of work.
Now what, you might ask, is the difference between “Swords” and “The Deadliest Catch,“ which is also on the Discovery Channel, and which, by contrast, I thought was a great show? The answer is that the quarry on the latter show are King and Opilio crabs from the Bering sea — species that are protected and are not migratory predators like Swordfish are. By law, you can only take so much crab out of the ocean, catches being highly regulated according to pounds and the size of crabs caught. But with swordfish, that is not the case. Ultimately, long lining is going to wipe out this species — which is why I find watching a show like “Swords” a little bit like watching a celebration of the clear cutting of the rain forest.
With World Oceans Day coming up on June 8, I hope you’ll join me in letting The Discovery Channel know that this is one fishing show that needs to be to taken off the air. It also wouldn’t hurt if we all refrained from eating swordfish, which is the only way we can put an end to this systematic slaughter of a species.