Tuesday, August 4, 2015

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

“Stunningly beautiful and rugged, this island wildlife sanctuary, once visited, is not easily forgotten. Its snow covered peaks, blue glacier ice and emerald green bays, are breath-taking sights. It is a real ‘oasis’ in the stormy southern oceans and is home to sea and land birds, seals and other amazing creatures.”

Thus do South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands present themselves on their national website, where the most recent headline (dated 16/09/14, September 16th for you Americans who do your dates the other way around; eleven full months back from the date on which I am writing this; which shows how much is going on there) notes the world-shatteringly significant news that “Following its five-yearly Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) assessment, the South Georgia Patagonian toothfish longline fishery has, for the third time, been certified as a sustainable and well-managed fishery. MSC is the world’s leading certification and ecolabel program for wild-caught environmentally sustainable seafood.”

So there you go. Some countries have military coups and some countries have student protests, but South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands have a toothfishery. You can see why the Argentinians invaded it in 1982. It wasn’t to kick the British out of the Antarctic at all; it was to get hold of those toothfish (a species of cod apparently, Dissostichus Eleginoides is the Patagonian variety, Dissostichus Mawson the one that prefers the cold of the deeper Antarctic). Her Majesty Queen Margaret I of Kesteven in the County of Lincolnshire dug a route canal on which to send the battleships, and reclaimed South Georgia, along with Las Malvinas – apologies, I mean the Falkland Islands – for Harry, England and St George (perhaps she mis-read South Georgia for Saint George, or maybe she thought South Georgia was in the Crimea and the Sandwich Islands a branch of Prêt-à-Manger in Kent). The islanders weren’t terribly happy at the time about the entire incident, from the Argie-bargy invasion to the arrival of the hydra-ships of the Thatcher-dragon; but now they look back on it as the one moment in the island’s entire history when anything newsworthy ever happened. Not counting the toothfish, obviously.

Marks for: 0 (the number of people who continued to support Queen Margaret in the run-up to the 1992 general election)

Marks against: 13,012,316 (the number of votes cast for the victorious Conservative Party in the UK in the aftermath of the Falklands War)

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