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All the Fish in the Sea – Just Like They Used to Be

Yet another report has come out about the sad state of our oceans. The Washington Post reports that there is confirmation from the illustrious American Association for the Advancement of Science (like we needed more evidence) that the predator fish in the ocean have declined dramatically, with the consequences dire.  In fact, it’s now clearer than ever that ocean fish, like tigers, are going the way of the woolly mammoth.  The article actually asks whether there will be any fish left in 2050?   If you’ve been paying attention, you know the answer – not the way we’re going.

Now we’ve been around, but jeez, not that long and yet, this decline has happened during our lifetimes.  (Hint: most fish devastation and overfishing has happened in the last 4 decades.).  Why?  For a start, the indiscriminate use of modern warfare-like technologies (think surveillance, search and destroy) to engage in catching dinner, not the old man on a boat.  With massive bycatch (that’s the byproduct of what’s caught but not desired so say you catch a pound of shrimp along with 20 pounds of other marine creatures, there’s your 20 pounds of bycatch) treated as if it were just so much debris.  Makes it almost seem like 2050 is a rosy prediction.   True, cute dolphins and turtles get headlines when they’re accidentally caught in the nets but how about the other pounds and pounds of fish and marine life?

Fish Labels?
Don’t ask. Don’t tell!

Then, there’s this notion that somehow fish are healthy to eat and “sustainable.”  Anyone checked out what’s happening with “fish farms” lately?  It’s really gross, not to mention cruel, not quite the happy farm-ville we imagine.  And don’t you just love mercury and all the other waste/crap that floats down to sea creatures and ends up in our bodies? 

Meanwhile, our ever-vigilant lawmakers are doing their part too, this time sucking up to the genetically-engineered salmon interests, further endangering our natural oceans.  Once these “new” fish (which are likely just the first) are given the final green light, which is imminent, we won’t even know what’s genetically-engineered or not (no labeling allowed).  The fish profiteers say growth hormone is fine to eat.  The reality is, maybe yes, maybe no since there’s very little study.  Even if it’s “fine,” it also doesn’t answer the nagging issue of what happens when these little science experiments escape and mate in the wild – they can and will  just like their bio-engineered plant friends have.  Who needs fish anyway, right?

His cuts don’t hurt

Finally, we definitely get the sense that some people really think that fish are different than other creatures – so that some self-proclaimed “vegetarians” actually convince themselves fish don’t count.  Talk about willful ignorance, as Jonathan Safran Foer put it.  Maybe they rationalize that fish don’t feel pain, or are healthy to eat, or are otherwise different than furry or feathered creatures.  We’re not here to judge — and we enjoyed plenty of bagels and lox in our past —  but let’s not kid ourselves.  

If we want a world with diverse creatures, including fish, we have to take responsibility and vote with our forks.  Certainly, we can’t trust commercial and political interests to do it otherwise.  We’ll betcha all the fish in the sea on that one.