Country Life Today: Spain accused of being ‘a deplorable choice’ for UN climate conference

A no-holds-barred assault on the Spanish fishing industry, Banksy raising awareness of the homeless and the woes of the Christmas jumper are in today's news round-up.

‘Spain is a deplorable choice as host nation’ due to fishing industry practices

The fact that the UN’s latest climate summit is taking place in Madrid has rustled the feathers of Charles Clover, executive director of Blue Marine Foundation, writing in The Times. Clover, whose organisation is a charity dedicated to creating marine reserves and establishing sustainable models of fishing, is enraged at the ecologically disastrous practices of the Spanish fishing industry.

Spain’s fishermen are ‘damaging the marine environment, by trawling the seabed with huge nets and by removing vast tonnages of fish,’ something which Clover says ‘is believed by many scientists to adversely affect the sea’s ability to act as a carbon sink. In this sense Spain is a deplorable choice as host nation.’

Clover unfortunately — almost bizarrely — goes on to muddy the tone of his message as he brings the Iberian country’s fascist era into his argument: ‘The disproportionate size of the Spanish fishing fleet today is one of the unremarked legacies of fascism,’ he says, explaining that ‘the Spanish fleet’s greatest expansion’ dates to the Franco years.

‘If Germany continued to drive its Panzer divisions over the plains of Europe, it would not go unnoticed. Yet hardly anyone makes the connection when Spain’s subsidy-driven fishing fleet works its way around the oceans of the world — and often turns a blind eye to the rules as it does so.’

Full story (The Times)

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Banksy highlights the plight of the homeless

The anonymous street-artist has created a new mural on a wall in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter to draw attention to Britain’s growing homelessness problem. A pair of reindeer set out on a starlit sky — but they are harnessed to a real bench, where Ryan, one of the city’s homeless is lying down, surrounded by his belongings.

Banksy posted a video of Ryan and his new artwork on his Instagram account, in which he also praised the people of Birmingham for their generosity. ‘In the 20 minutes we filmed Ryan on this bench,’ the artist wrote, ‘passers-by gave him a hot drink, two chocolate bars and a lighter — without him ever asking for anything.’

Full story (Birmingham Mail)

On This Day… in 1884

Mark Twain published The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Despite being set in the United States, the book was first published in the UK and Canada, with the American edition appearing only a few months later.

Twain’s choice to use crude language and the book’s focus on slavery ensured it was steeped in controversy from the outset. It remains so even today with some commentators arguing that, despite Huck’s efforts to help Jim escape slavery, the novel is imbued with racist vocabulary and stereotypes. Nonetheless, it is considered one of the greatest literary masterpieces of all times, with Ernest Hemingway saying that ‘there was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.’


Eddie Hodges and Archie Moore starred in the 1960 film version of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Why your Christmas jumper is bad for the environment

Disposable fashion is wreaking havoc on the planet and none more so than the Yuletide jumper, which is not only made of fibre-shedding plastics but also gets worn just once or twice across the holiday season.

To limit the damage, environmental charity Hubbub is asking people to give jumpers they already own a second wear — maybe after updating them with a little DIY — rather tan buying a new one.

red, blue, white and beige christmas sweaters on dark brown wooden table

‘We don’t want to stop people dressing up and having a great time at Christmas, but there are so many ways to do this without buying new,’ explains Hubbub’s project co-ordinator, Sarah Divall. ‘Fast fashion is a major threat to the natural world and Christmas jumpers are particularly problematic as so many contain plastic. Remember: a jumper is for life, not just for Christmas.’

Full story (Country Life)

And finally… otterly fabulous Edinburgh

Two otters have been spotted frolicking in the water in the city centre.

Where, when and how to spot an otter in the wild

Otters can live in most places where there is a rocky shoreline and nearby freshwater, but these tips collated by