The world’s oceans (and 70 percent of the earth’s surface) are a source of beauty and life for the 7 billion people around the world. They are home to millions of species of fish and crustaceans. The serene blue on a sunny day is like a mirror. The extreme storms on windswept seas have the power to sink ships and take lives. Despite their fickle nature, we should have more respect for them and their inhabitants.
We are facing an epidemic as the oceans are being vastly overfished. What will be left if all the fish are gone? No more sushi. No more shrimp cocktail, and no more grilled salmon fillet. Unless measures are taken, there are certain species of fish (Bluefin tuna) actually at risk for extinction due to overfishing.
Each year 1.4 billion fishing hooks are cast into the sea – each with a piece of fish bait on them. Trawlers trail giant nets (the size of four football fields) capable of catching up to 500 tons of fish, including bycatch. “Bycatch” is what is caught but not intended for sale, including dolphins, sea turtles and other fish humans typically don’t eat. The extras are usually tossed back into the sea, but some die in the process.
What does this leave us with? Farmed fish now accounts for 47 percent of the fish we consume. So, what’s the problem? Well…farmed fish are often pumped full of antibiotics so the fish don’t get sick. What happens when we eat the fish? We are also inadvertently ingesting all those antibiotics. The problem there is that humans build up an immunity to antibiotics. You can only take them so often before they stop working properly. That means that if you’re getting doses of antibiotics from the fish you eat, they may not work when you really need them.
Also, many of the farmed fish feed on smaller fish. In order to grow one kilogram of farmed salmon, it takes five kilograms of captured wild fish. The farmers feed them low quality fish to produce expensive big fish. So, it’s questionable whether we are actually saving any ocean fish after all.
To stop overfishing, beware of the types of fish and sushi you are buying. Don’t buy ones that are notorious for being overfished. Be mindful at the grocery store. Avoid farmed fish if you can, and write to your politicians to tell them you won’t stand for this.