Reducing Fish Consumption

So the latest thing I’ve been trying to focus on is my consumption of fish.

You probably don’t know many people who cut out fish but not other meat for moral reasons – a lot of vegetarians cut out beef, pork, chicken and other meats but continue to eat fish for nutrition. (Not only is it a good source of protein, but deep sea varieties contain essential fatty acids).

However lately I’ve been feeling prompted to cut out fish rather than other meats. Of course, it would be great to be able to cut out all meats completely (the goal is to be vegan again!) but if I must make a start, fish is what I want to stop eating first. My main reason for this is I discovered the most recent stats on what overfishing has done to our oceans.

Firstly, the oceans cover 70% of the planet and contain 80 per cent of all life on Earth. Not only large and small fish, planktons, and mammals such as cetaceans and seals, but an array of plant life and a whole host of creatures that are completely undiscovered. Knowing that the oceans have the overwhelming majority of life on our isolated little planet should encourage anybody to care about it’s health.

What’s very alarming though, is the fact that 80% of the world’s fisheries (fisheries referring to any area where fish live) are overexploited and depleted. (See overfishing.org). On top of that 90% of large predatory fish are gone. A lot of people are unaware what large predatory fish actually are, but a few examples are tuna, perch, shark, sea bass and salmon.  

90% are gone! 9 out of every 10 large fish are taken away – just taken. Why are we not freaking out about this? 

With modern fishing methods – trawl nets that literally sweep the sea clean, trapping cetaceans, turtles, even sea birds who get caught in the nets when they try to fish – how much longer do we realistically have before these species are gone forever? The answer is, not very long. Experts’ predictions range from 25 years to less than 10.  I’m personally even less optimistic than that.

Is it any wonder that we have wound up in this situation? There are apparently enough fishing fleets in existence to cover 4 Earths. I think we’re kidding ourselves if we think the situation is going to change on it’s own, without the average person taking some sort of action.

So first and foremost, we can make better choices with what we eat. I have personally cut out all tuna – which was admittedly painful, I love sushi! – and am trying to drastically reduce my servings of salmon. I also highly recommend doing a bit of research on what other seafood is ok to consume. The Australian Marine Conservation Society has created a smartphone application that I am loving so much right now; it lists what seafood is ok, what you should avoid, and what you should think twice about.

So although I do eventually want to stop eating all animal products, I feel like this is the best start I can make, as we have no shortage of cows, pigs or chickens, but we do have a shortage of fish. I personally would like my children to be able to enjoy a tuna sandwich, or some sushi, on rare occasion. I’m also trying to get a little more involved in some other projects in the hopes commercial fishing vessels will change their methods, but that’s probably a topic for another blog.

I’d love to hear what you all think on the topic and if you have any tips regarding better seafood choices, do share.

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