Should you stop eating fish? is a question that has been around for a few years now.
So I’ll just say, I am a huge fan of Sylvia Earle and her work. But in the article mentioned above, I cannot agree with her idealism about not eating fish.
This may raise some eyebrows.
After all, Sylvia Earle is known as The Queen of the Deep. In fact, she’s one of my ocean heroes. She’s one of the people I would most like to sit down to dinner with. I adore and respect her. Sylvia Earle has spent a lifetime advocating and working to protect the oceans. She is still working. Her project, Hope Spots with Mission Blue conceived during her famous TED talk in 2009, is a brilliant project. Hope Spots are those areas in the ocean that are critical to the health of the oceans. And ultimately our planet.
Over 3 billion people, including small and medium fishers and fish farmers, rely on seafood as their main protein.
That is not a disputable number. And one I cannot ignore.
Certainly, I agree with her on many fronts about the pillaging and over-harvesting of many seafood species. Our oceans are in trouble. Especially big fish.
A few years ago, I made a decision to stop eating tuna. Even though not all tuna species are threatened. But the seafood industry, up until a few years ago, was not as transparent as some other food industries. It’s getting better, but we still have a ways to go. Additionally, since I’m land-locked, tuna was easy to quit. However, know this. If I lived near the coast where I knew my fisherman, and the method of catch, I would consider an occasional tuna meal.
But there are far more sustainable seafood species to eat that do not harm the environment or disturb the delicate ecosystems that Sylvia has spent a lifetime protecting.
So what’s a fish-lover to do?
Aquaculture is the future of fish.
Now, this industry is not without its challenges. Fish farming has had serious growing pains as it scaled during the 1950s and 60s. And much negative press continues to taint it. And as an industry, aquaculture is young. In the sense that we see it now. Indeed, aquaculture has been around for centuries.
Over 50 percent of the seafood we eat is farmed, and that number is growing.
There is incredible potential here. So there is no way to discount aquaculture as a poor solution. Though Sylvia Earle makes a case for certain types of fish farming that she maintains aren’t sustainable, (she mentions open ocean pens), again I would disagree. There are some farms that produce unhealthy fish, but these are a few bad players in otherwise advanced, efficient global industry.
Fish farming is moving forward swiftly with technology as its engine.
- Systems like Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) are making fish farming more efficient and sustainable.
- Fish feed, one of the biggest challenges for any farmed protein, is becoming more efficient with technology and innovation.
- We have Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA), an open ocean farm that creates a symbiotic relationship between fish, mussels, and seaweed. It’s super efficient and self-sustaining.
- We have fish-bots people! That’s right. Robotic fish that swim with farmed fish to collect data on fish behavior.
We cannot continue to only eat wild fish.
Sylvia is right. We just need to make informed decisions about the seafood we eat, whether it’s wild or farmed. Because not all farmed fish is safe, and not all wild is sustainable.
Farmed species like oysters, clams, mussels, cultivated seaweed, scallops, salmon that is farmed sustainably (which are more plentiful than many people think), barramundi, are all sustainable choices. Wild species, those smaller fish that haven’t been living for decades, and under-loved species like skate and squid are excellent choices.
If I had to pick one seafood to eat, it would be mussels.
Mussels are a farmed seafood. They’re delicious, nutritious, no-fuss to prepare, affordable, and they are filter-feeders which means they leave the water in better shape.
The article in The Guardian, mentioned in the beginning of this post, almost 4 years old, still gets much attention in fisheries communities.
As it should.
Are you ready to stop eating fish? Did you? What made you decide? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or hit me up on Facebook.
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