In 1986 archaeologists discovered a hidden treasure in the mud of the Sea of Galilee, the intact hull of a fishing boat from the time of Jesus. A little over 8 metres long and 2.3 metres wide, it was the type of boat from which James and John fished when Jesus called them.

The same year the “Jesus boat” was discovered construction began on the “Moownzund” series of fishing supertrawlers. Dwarfing those boats that plied their trade on the Galilean waters, these one hundred and twenty metre long behemoths are capable of traversing oceans and processing two hundred and ten tons of fish every day. Theirs are not hand nets cast by Hebrew fisherman but massive meshed domes that stretch hundreds of metres. Their catch is not located by experiment and line of sight, but through the use of sophisticated sonar electronics.

In these two boats is summed the environmental challenge of our time. Human beings have long imposed a heavy toll on the environment. The era of the Jesus boat saw the introduction of fishing methods such as night fishing and fish traps that led to Mediterranean marine species such as the giant white groper, the murex, red coral, and sponges becoming so overfished they almost became extinct.[i] But in the era of the super trawler such degradation is happening on an unprecedented scale. Traversing the oceans these supertrawlers plunder one fishing ground after another, hauling fish out of the water at such a rate that the fish population goes into decline, then move on to wreak havoc somewhere else.  

That which is happening in the oceans is being repeated on the land and in the atmosphere. Species are becoming extinct at an unprecedented rate, dead zones are appearing in our oceans as we overload them with nitrogen, the earth’s climate is changing as a result of the greenhouse gases we emit.

Source: Scott Higgins, A Beautiful World. Christianity and Creation (2014)

[i] Grull, Tibor, “Ecological Changes in the Roman Mediterranean”, unpublished paper accessed at July 2014