…something smells fishy…
I love seafood! It contains a high-quality and healthy source of protein. However, many of the methods used to fish and farm seafood for animal and human consumption are detrimental to fish populations and the greater aquatic ecosystems. In a world that is only becoming more globalized I believe it’s important to not only educate students on literacy and science but also how to make sustainable choices as a consumer when they become part of the “real world”.
Unfortunately, the real world is only concerned making a buck, regardless of the casualties their methods incur. Greentumble seeks to “give nature a voice” by promoting a more eco-friendly life style. On their website, they discuss some of the worst fishing techniques that have made more than half of the world fisheries vulnerable to exploitation. Over-fishing is only ONE of the problems of the fishing industry. Cyanide fishing and dynamite fishing stun or kill the target fish making them easier to catch, but these practices effect non-target aquatic organism as well, poisoning the entire ecosystem making it impossible for any aquatic animals to live their natural lives. Ghost fishing is also an unnecessary yet prevalent outcome of carelessness. Fishing equipment that gets lost at sea 1) contributes to the pollution of waters and 2) continues to trap turtles and dolphins as it drifts and eventually gets caught on the floor. Although this is hard to measure since the equipment is lost to never be found, it is likely that the increasing amount of garbage in the waters has a largely negative impact on aquatic ecosystems.
On my visit to the Georgia Aquarium, I learned about their sustainable seafood program, Seafood Savvy. They, like Greentumble, encourage a more eco-friendly consumption of seafood. They break it down into three questions to consider when consuming seafood: 1) Where did it com from? 2) Is it farmed or wild-caught? 3) If wild, how was it caught? In addition, supermarkets are required to label these specifications so you can get a better pictures of how the product was fished/farmed.
This perspective is easily adopted by people in the US who don’t rely on fishing as their livelihood. But the poor fishermen who rely on these techniques to make an income will certainly disagree. Only by improving their working conditions and providing more sustainable fishing methods will they stop damaging aquatic ecosystems.
Oh and stop going to Sea World! but that’s a discussion for another day. Check out the links below for a more in-depth look at the problems of the fishing industry and to learn more about sustainable seafood.