The Word on the Week

Stalking the Thunder

Amid the many stories of the planet’s wildlife being slaughtered there emerged this week the story of the large piratical fishing trawler which bears its most recent name of Thunder. It underlined again the difficulty in policing the oceans and also the sad fact that if you want to destroy species and make a fortune in the process you need a ship.

Few, if any, nations wish to engage in the costly task of policing the seas so it was left to ‘Sea Shepherd’ (an Amnesty International type organisation sailing out of Amsterdam) to stalk the Thunder with two of its ships.

The chase started in Dec.2014 in Antarctic waters and ended in April. The voyage took the vessels through some of the world’s most hazardous waters as the Thunder tried to shake off her pursuers.

The species most at risk are Marlin, Swordfish and Tuna but the most coveted of all is the Tooth Fish renamed Chilean Sea Bass for the upmarket US restaurants. It is known as ‘White Gold’ and fillets sell at $30 a plate. These fish measure up to 6 feet in length and weigh 250 lbs. The Thunder was fishing for them on the Banzare Bank using 5 miles of illegal netting which was confiscated.

The journey ended with Thunder, its fuel supply running low, being scuttled off the West African coast. Its captain claimed it had hit an object but it appears he had sunk the ship to destroy evidence of illicit fishing. All were rescued and whatever evidence that could be grabbed from the vessel was taken as she sank under the water.

What has the Bible to say to all this?

When God said “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea…” (Genesis Chapter 1 verse 26) everything he had made was very good – both fish and man.

We must never underestimate the radical change that took place at the fall.

Instead of being good stewards of all God had provided sin, entering the world through our disobedience, has polluted all our efforts at husbandry.

The Thunder simply provides us with an illustration of what we are all capable of given the opportunity. The absence of law enforcement and the presence of great wealth offer an irresistible opportunity for short term gain. Only an encounter with the risen Christ can change the polluter to be a protector. Only when the fisher of Chilean Sea Bass meets the fisher of Men, turns his back on the former in order to embrace the latter can we hope for good stewardship in Antarctica or at home.

As Joseph Hart put it: –

‘Come you weary heavy laden, Lost and ruined by the Fall;

If you wait until your better, you will never come at all;

Not the righteous – sinners Jesus came to call.’