Knowing that the majority of global fishing areas are becoming devoid of fish (please read/re-read my previous blogs titled, “The Fish Façade”) there has been prolific development of the fish farm industry.
Nearly 80% of all the fish stocks found in the world are depleted or fully exploited as reported in 2010 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Because of this, businesses and governments have turned to other ways to produce fish (rather than simply the option of not eating fish at all…). Aquaculture, the growing of fish in a farmed area, is growing faster than all other animal food sectors. Farmed fish now involve 47% of all fish produced or caught for food. This growth in aquaculture is driving an explosive increase in global fishing. It is a bizarre, ecologically unhealthy circle, where the demand to eat fish has taxed our oceans so there has been a proliferation of controlled fish-farm production, which then places further stress on the oceans because of the need for fish-meal and oil in the production process. One third of all fish caught in oceans are used as meal for farmed fish or livestock. The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission study recently revealed that it requires up to 60 million metric tons of “harvested wild fish” per year to feed the 3 million tons of the three major tropical tuna species that we are now harvesting annually raised in ‘farms’ (essentially concentrated floating pig farms). This is interesting logic—to catch, kill, and eat Blue Fin Tuna until they are critically endangered and then turn around and create near extinctions of other species of fish just to feed the tuna we are now raising on farms because we cannot get enough of what—sushi? For salmon the ratio is 3.3 tons of fishmeal to produce 1 ton of farmed fish, complete with pesticides, antibiotics, and sea lice (see “Comfortably Unaware”, Chapter VII).
It has once been said that, “we live because our oceans live.” Some things to consider: Our oceans produce 70% of all oxygen on earth. Oceans are responsible for the proper regulation of our climate. They consist of not only just water, but also a diverse amount of living things—plants, animals, and fish—all intertwined and dependent upon each other, sometimes in complex and poorly understood ways. For these and many more reasons we need to do what we can to keep our oceans and the many ecosystems of living things within them healthy. Currently 64% of all our oceans have no national jurisdiction, so fishing practices remain completely unregulated. The other 36% is governed by various policies that are vague and subjective at best—without appropriate laws in place or adequate methods for implementation and enforcement to ensure our oceans remain in perfect health. Massive extraction of fish species from our oceans is taking place in order to supply our ever-increasing demand to eat them. So it is essentially our collective demand to eat fish that is responsible for decimating intricate and vital oceanic ecosystems. There is no physiologic ‘need’ for us to kill and consume sea life. The omega 3 fatty acids, protein, and beef alternatives you seek can easily be found in plant foods—and, without the cholesterol, saturated fat, potential for mercury and heavy metals, and accompanying environmental loss you find in our quest for more fish. Additionally, there is no fiber to be found in fish and not one phytonutrient—so, if you wish to eat foods that have numerous types and powerful amounts of these highly beneficial substances, you will have to consume plants—thus also reducing your risk of developing cancer, heart disease, inflammation, and oxidation/aging all at the same time. For every one of the numerous extinctions we are causing through our abusive actions with our oceans, we are really only one step closer to our own demise. I think we need to consider replacement of the well-recognized sign that states, “Gone Fishing” with a new one—“Fishing Gone.”
Much more on what we are really doing to our oceans when we choose to eat fish can be found in “Comfortably Unaware”, Chapter VI-Part 2: Our oceans—what is happening below the surface?