Where Did the Fish Go?

theme-1308-lessfishThe sad truth is we are fishing fish out of existence. Roughly 80% of stocks are being fished at or above their limits. The effect has been particularly bad for big predatory fish (tuna, swordfish, cod, flounder, etc.), whose populations have been decimated since 1950 — cut literally to a tenth of their size. That’s why you see less of them at restaurants and markets these days and more salmon and tilapia, which are farmed.

I doubt there is a mainstream value system in the world, religious or secular, that would condone the knowing elimination of species that neither harm nor compete with us.

But ethics aside, there is the impact on ocean ecosystems to consider. To kill off multiple species in the blink of an evolutionary eye is to court major disruption if not downright disaster.

Fortunately, it is not too late to save fish species — and we even know how. By creating and enforcing science-based catch limits on fish stocks, we can rebuild them. In fact, we’re doing that successfully in the U.S. now where some of the most effective legislation for protecting fish is in place.

The trouble lies mainly in other nations’ waters and on the high seas where weaker laws, if any, are in effect.

However, since Americans are the third largest consumer of fish, we can have an impact in the marketplace. Key is buying wild fish (because farmed fish are usually raised in an environmentally detrimental way that puts extra pressure on wild fish stocks), buying domestic fish (because American protections and environmental standards are better) and buying smaller fish (because they are less likely to be threatened).

Read Eat More Fish? on nrdc.org for more specific guidelines for eating fish sustainably and a fuller discussion of the problem.

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7 Responses to Where Did the Fish Go?

  1. Murray Bolesta August 28, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    The email “Eat More Fish?” from Sheryl Eisenberg was truly excellent and helpful. This information dovetails with my recent exposure to Sea Shepard and I truly appreciate it.

  2. Olga Zaric August 28, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

    The only way is to go vegan. For more info, watch this video :

  3. Gordon Boone August 28, 2013 at 4:22 pm #

    I buy all my seafood online from a company called VitalChoice Wild Seafood and Organics. One of their selling points is certified sustainable methods and they are recognized as kosher. I am we’ll satisfied and believe they are telling the truth. I haven’t bought seafood from grocery stores in years because the fish just didn’t taste right. Enjoyed the article!

  4. Paul Whitcomb August 29, 2013 at 7:29 am #

    Right now, Fukushima is the greatest threat to fish and all life on the planet.

    • Cathy August 29, 2013 at 8:32 am #

      Living on the New England coast I am fully aware of the problems regarding over fishing. I wish your article had indicated the numbers of incursions of foreign (non-US) fishermen into US waters.
      Perhaps the greatest problem to the fish stock is caused by the use of long line and gill net fishing. A non-discriminatory method of fishing that causes the greatest destruction to all types of sea creatures. A law banning such use would be wise except for the fact that it is at best difficult if not impossible to enforce.

  5. Gordie Boone August 29, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    I can totally agree with Mr. Whitcomb where Fukushima is concerned!

  6. Carol Tepper August 30, 2013 at 6:49 am #

    Glad you covered this topic. I do check my seafood pocket guide whenever I buy fish. It’s not hard to do, once you get in the habit of remembering it.