All the Fish in the Ocean
Photo from Meat Free Week My transition to cutting out animal products was a gradual one that unravelled as I made each new discovery of the craziness of food production in our world today and the suffering that animals experience. Earlier on I found it harder to relate to "seafood", marine life, than I did to land animals or mammals. I know that many other people also feel this due to the common adverse reaction over the slaughter of dolphins or whales while having no problem eating a crab or fish.
Is it because we can't hear them scream? Or due to the belief that they don't have long memories? Or maybe because there are "so many of them"?
What really got me was the massive destructive environmental impact our desire to eat fish is having on the planet.
As a result of commercial fishing, 90 percent of large fish populations have been exterminated in the past 50 years. 47% of all fish populations are fished to their full capacity. Due to this overfishing, problematic fishing practises and inadequate regulation of international waters, the stocks of fish are being taken much faster than they can replenish. There have been total collapses in fisheries such as with Peruvian coast anchovy, the Canadian cod and now the Atlantic salmon. In 2008 the UN did a report showing the world fishing fleets are losing $50 billion a year due to depleted stocks - for example in the last decade, in the north Atlantic region, commercial fish populations of cod, hake, haddock and flounder have fallen by as much as 95%.
Fishing in todays world often means big boats with big nets. These big nets drag up and kill all sorts of sea-life resulting in huge amounts of "by-catch". In fact 1/4 of all fish fished are considered by-catch, which basically translates to rubbish as they are thrown back into the ocean - dead. This by-catch includes dolphins, turtles, sharks and many other species including endangered ones, especially from the bottom trawling used to catch prawns. The bottom trawling has the extra destructive effect of damaging the ocean floors and coral reefs.
There is endless information and studies out there highlighting the very real and current threat of overfishing.
Back to the individual fish and the reality is that fish do feel pain even if they can not voice it. They have the same pain-transmitting chemicals as humans and have nerve endings near the skin like other mammals. It's gotta hurt getting a hook through your mouth or body... and suffocating can not be fun not matter what way you look at it.
So what do you do if you still want to eat fish but want to do it in a sustainable way? I'm going to write about the best options this week and look into the major down side of fish farms.
Check out this quick, non-offensive but great video that sums it up!
Or click here for a more in-depth UN report