By now, you’d have to be living on a desert island with nobody around but Wilson the Volleyball to not have heard of overfishing and the dire straits it’s causing for all the world’s oceans. In case you don’t believe me, here’s a recent statement by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a leader in the search for sustainable fishing methods and ocean conservation: “Researchers have seen the future, and the ocean wildlife is gone. So says a newly published study in the journal Science, which warns that the world’s wild-caught seafood fisheries could collapse by 2048 if current commercial fishing patterns continue. But it doesn’t have to happen. Seafood can be caught and farmed in responsible, sustainable ways. And you can help by only eating seafood that is.”
Due to current commercial fishing patterns—such as long lining and the use of nets—overfishing is affecting every species in the ocean. Just because long-line fishermen may hope to only catch tuna, many other species get entangled in the lines and caught on the hooks. This can include sharks, sea birds, dolphins, whales, other species of fish, sea turtles and more. Often times the animal drowns before it can be released, but for many species, death is inevitable as they’ll be killed regardless if there’s potential for a profit. Overfishing is literally affecting every species in the oceans and as the above statement says, if this continues, our oceans will be void of life within the next 35 years and this will have profoundly devastating effects on the planet as a whole.
But with the popularity of sushi and the health benefits of fish, convincing people to stop eating fish is a nearly impossible endeavor. So, rather than asking my readers to cease all seafood consumption, I’d rather implore you to make smart, sustainable choices when buying seafood from the grocery store or ordering it at a restaurant. Educate yourself on the species and fishing methods that are sustainable, ask questions at stories and restaurants about where the fish came from and then share your knowledge with anyone who will listen—the survival of our oceans depends on small changes by many.
Please visit Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program to learn more about the issues and find helpful resources—including a handy, printable pocket guide that will aid you in making sustainable seafood choices.