Seafood

I have not eaten fish for decades. I view the eating of fish as ecologically irresponsible and many years ago declared a self-imposed taboo on eating fish ~ Paul Watson – Environmental activist and founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

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Sea Shepherds seafood policy, based purely on ecological grounds is that we must stop eating seafood altogether. To read the Sea Shepherd policy click here.

The facts about modern fishing make for very sobering reading:

  • According to the United Nation’s report1 The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture“, around 136 million tons of fish are pulled from our oceans each year1.
  • According to the United Nation’s report2General situation of world fish stocks“, 3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted.
  • By-catch is a major problem.  That is: for every 1 pound of fish caught, there is a large amount of  unintended marine species that are caught and discarded as by-kill1. Often these are more vulnerable species than the intended catch and include sharks and dolphins1.
  • In the last 55 years, humans have wiped out 90% of the oceans top predators (sharks, Bluefin tuna, swordfish, marlin, king mackerel). Read more on the depletion of the oceans here.
  • In 2006 a study3 of catch data predicted at the current rate of depletion, complete collapse of fisheries is possible by 2048.  It is also noted that many thousands of fisheries have already collapsed3. 
  • According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) almost 80% of global fisheries are being fished close to, at, or beyond their capacity and more than 50% of fish stocks considered fully exploited1.
  • Sea Shepherd say that more than half of the worlds catch is from industrial fishing fleets that can decimate entire areas in a matter of minutes.  Read more on the depletion of the oceans here.
  • The World Health Organisation estimates that farmed salmon has 10 times the organic pollutants than wild salmon. Learn more about farmed salmon pollutants here.
  • According to World Wild Fund (WWF), 90% of the world’s large fish have already been fished out, and 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises die each year after becoming entangled in fishing equipment. Read more about by-catch here.bycatch
  • Aquaculture or fish farming does not solve the problem. Many require wild fish as food, (consuming more than their own weight). For example every kg of farmed salmon requires 6kg of wild fish. Also, aquaculture can be very destructive due to ecosystem destruction and huge amount of toxic waste dumped into the environment.  To learn more on the effect of aquaculture on the ecosystem click here.
  • From a sustainability point of view Sea Shepherd advise that avoiding seafood altogether is the only realistic solution. To learn more about Sea Shepherd’s seafood policy click here.

One of the reasons that I do not eat meat, aside from the considerable ethical and ecological considerations, is that some 40% of the fish taken from the sea is converted into fish meal to feed chickens and pigs and domestic salmon ~ Paul Watson – Environmental activist and founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

The UN report – “Assessing the Environmental impacts of Consumption and production4 states that over exploitation and collapse of fish stocks is happening and that emissions from industrial fisheries are considered relatively high4. The report notes significant declines in game and fish populations have resulted from over ­harvesting and for many fish species, populations have dwindled and harvests have vanished.

A fish is more valuable to humanity swimming free in the sea than it is on someone’s plate.When the fish are no more, the sea will die and when the Ocean dies – we die!~ Paul Watson – Environmental activist and founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

ByCatch from fishing Industry - Photo by Greenpeace


Links & Resources

vegan resources

Meateaters guide: Life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of food.

United Nations 2014 report on the state of Aquaculture and Fisheries

Pollutants in farmed salmon

WWF report on fishing and bycatch


References

[1] Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. 2014. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.fao.org/3/a-i3720e.pdf

[2] Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. 2004. General situation of world fish stocks. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.fao.org/newsroom/common/ecg/1000505/en/stocks.pdf

[3] Worm B, et al 2006. Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services. American Association for the Advancement of Science, [Online]. 314, 787-790. Available at: http://palumbi.stanford.edu/manuscripts/impacts%20of%20biodiversity%20loss%20on%20ocean%20ecosystem%20services.pdf

 [4] United Nations Environment Program. 2010. Assessing the environmental impacts of consumption and production. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.unep.org/resourcepanel/Portals/24102/PDFs/PriorityProductsAndMaterials_Report.pdf.