The ocean is broken

I decided today that to do my bit for this planet, and leave something for future generations, I must no longer eat fish.

Why?  Because of this:

It’s a heart-breaking read.

It’s not just because of this article.  I’ve long been worried about wasteful fishing methods, and hoped, in the past, that the supposedly increasing focus on sustainability would eventually fix things, but I’ve lost faith in that.

It’s time for all of us to act, the little people.  To stand up for what we care for and a future for our children.

New fishing methods are being developed that will help to reduce by-catch.  This is a good start, but I think we need to do more than that.  Marine farming?  Even those methods need to improve, but it’s still better than ravaging our natural resources.

In the meantime, I can think of no louder statement than to say I will no longer buy fish until I see the planet’s marine resources replenishing.

22 thoughts on “The ocean is broken

  1. It seems like your decision is a noble one, but to what effect really, being just one person. The article you linked to was heartbreaking and reminded me of Rachel Carson’s iconic book “Silent Spring”. But without further telling of this story on a global stage, you will be just one person crying in a wilderness. Macfayden has a larger platform. Maybe you could join that? It is certainly an important message. I found it appalling that academics thought it was more important not to burn fuel than to mount a clean-up of all that debris from the tsunami or other garbage. I think the Japanese should be shamed into doing the clean-up. They could use their massive whaling fleet for that. Perhaps all that garbage could then be brought ashore to be burned for power. I’m sure somebody could figure out a way to do that cleanly. It is a difficult problem, but I agree that something has to be done, but I fear that one person’s stand won’t be noticed without a wider dissemination of information. Good luck with your campaign. I’ll watch your blog for updates.

    1. Or the fishing companies out there trawling all day every day could be paid for one day’s clean-up to fish garbage and not fish!! You are right. One person alone cannot accomplish anything. But I hope that my voice is but one of millions that will eventually be heard!?? If we are to survive as a species that is…

      1. The situation just has to be more highly publicized, and then small voices will have an effect. You’ve got a good platform with your knitting blog, or maybe you could begin another blog that is more on the environmental side. I visited New Zealand back in 1983, and I would hate to think of that part of the world being lost. Keep up the fight.

  2. I just had fish for dinner and now feel guilty for it… but it’s true, we are wasting fish, despite receding numbers, at every stage – from the fish point down to the sell point… How much fish goes unsold and thrown away? It can’t be that all the fish shown on display will be sold, especially the more expensive one. That includes tuna.
    You’re taking a just action, and I know that we should all do that. But I fear that it may be too late. We broke the planet, not just the ocean. Depleted and misused, for greed and blind economic short-term profit.

    1. I’ve been feeling sick all day due to that article. You are right. The planet is broken. The awful thing is that half the planet’s population doesn’t know it. It’s up to governments to educate and fix I think. Who else has the magnitude to be able to accomplish change? I believe we can help force change by focalising what is wrong. So that’s what I’m trying to do. As others have pointed out, one person cannot change the world. But if every one person did more to help change the world, that all adds up to one big statement.

      1. I think that, sadly, many people know and truly don’t care…. My belief comes from conversations with or observation of some people, even when it’s rubbered on their nose they care for money/shopping over environment. Not all, but a significant share.
        Possibly, this would get better with early education and examples (i.e. school, family) 🙂
        I started recycling when I was a kid and it was thanks to a mini “lecture” and a cute mag with the story of how paper is produced and how trees can be saved. At that time, there was no recycling idea or facilities yet, it was truly a vision for the future. From then, I spread the bug to my family and they all recycle now. It’s little, but important. It’s the example.
        So, I’m pessimist on the one hand, but not willing to give up on doing something on the other. There are days when I lay in despair though… Some days I wonder whether it would be different with a greater female participation to government?

  3. Great. For several years now, my family has been buying only fish caught locally, by sustainable methods. At least, I hope that the sustainability claims are true. The other issue is how to reduce the rubbish problem. That’s a HUGE one; it’s a lot harder to live without plastic than to go without eating fish.

    1. That is another very pertinent point. I am as careful as I can be with plastic – taking my own shopping bags when I go to the supermarket and recycling all the plastic I can. However, it’s not enough I think. In reality we should not be using plastic at all. We used to be able to do it – why not again?

  4. If everyone said that one person could not make a difference nothing would change -ever. If your voice stops one person then their voice could change one more
    Good for you .I will join you

  5. Glad you’re thinking about this vitally important subject. However, please Do Not stop eating all fish. In fact, we would urge you and your readers to eat as much wild-caught Pacific salmon as you wish to. The manner in which wild salmon are harvested is entirely different from the manner in which other ocean species are harvested. Strict limits are set and adhered to, and millions of salmon are allowed to go free and to be part of the chain of life.
    Every time you invest in a meal of wild-caught salmon (Chinook, Coho, Sockeye, Chum or Pink), you are investing in an entire ecosystem. As long as people value and purchase wild-caught salmon, there is a vested interest in keeping the environs these fish require clean for future generations. Give up on wild salmon, stop investing in them, and they – And Their Environs – lose value. When that happens, we lose the leverage we need to keep logging companies from clear cutting salmon forests. We lose the leverage we need to keep mining companies from ripping up salmon rivers.
    If you really want to do something positive for the oceans, make it a rule to never purchase a farmed salmon and to not give your business to restaurants and markets that sell farmed salmon. Cheap farmed salmon undermines the value of wild salmon. The goal of the salmon farming industry seems to be to create a world where the only salmon are those in pens. When that happens, orcas, bears, eagles and a host of other animals will lose a vital food source.
    You’ll pay more for wild salmon than for certain other seafood. It’s worth of it. Think of it not just as a great meal, but as an investment in our oceans and forests.

    1. Thank you so much for that. I used to be able to buy wild salmon, and I loved it. It tastes a billion times better than farmed salmon. Then I read about how bad farmed salmon was for the environment, and also the yucky things they feed the fish, so I stopped eating that as well (also because it tastes horrid). I shall keep wild salmon on the list though (although it’s a very hard thing to find in New Zealand). 🙂

  6. Good on you Wei Siew. I disagree that one person making a personal change will not create change, if we all had that attitude, nothing at all would be achieved. We must stand for what we believe in and live a life we are proud to live. One person making a change and sharing why they are doing it will create dissonance within others and call them to question their own beliefs and whether they are living with integrity.
    Much love and support to you for this cause because it is one I completely support and agree with. A XXX

  7. I agree with Christine ( and have been a veggie for several years already ). Good luck with your decision ( as I know it can be quite difficult at times; taste/foody-wise… ) !

    1. Thanks Jose. 🙂 I think a small sacrifice for the greater good is one I can live with. I have been feeling uncomfortable about eating fish for quite some time, so this article was the final ‘nail in the coffin’ for me.

  8. I think it’s better to protest against unsustainable or unethical fishing practices by supporting those who do fish sustainably and ethically.

    I found that article heartbreaking too – mostly the part about the huge trawler that caught everything and just threw away the fist they didn’t want. But I refuse to blame the Japanese for junk that has washed into the sea because of the tsunami. That could’ve happened anywhere and produced at least as much plastic crap. All of our countries are infested with too much rubbish.

    If everyone thinks they can’t do anything because they’re just one person, then of course nothing will change. As a society we tend to depend on the extremists (like the Greenpeace folk who get themselves arrested on oil rigs and such) to strike out and get the rest of us into action. I thinking talking about it to other people is a good start because it’s so easy to be quite ignorant about these issues, or forget about them.

    1. I agree. The unfortunate thing for me is that I don’t know who fishes sustainably or ethically. Who can we believe? Businesses say anything to make a buck. Unless I see proof, I can no longer believe the words of those whose business it is to make money. Which is why I’ve decided I just won’t eat ocean seafood any more. Maybe if enough of us do that, it will pressure the large fisheries to change their ways.

  9. I completely understand where you are coming from. I highly recommend the documentary “Farming the Seas”– it overviews not only the problems, but also the possible solutions. I also recommend the Marine Stewardship Council (if you can find things with their endorsement– sometimes that is not so easy as they are not widely in demand by consumers– yet!!) and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Foodwatch Guide — although, admittedly, I am not sure how well these cover NZ/southern hemisphere fisheries. (I am an anthropologist in the US and specialize in intentional communities– several of which are focused on sustainability. This includes running a study abroad program to NZ every other year– and we visit and/or stay with several communities focused on sustainability/permaculture– so I am aware of some of the issues that are specific to your area of the world.)
    Personally, I do not eat a lot of fish anymore for many of these reasons. But I do still eat farm raised tilapia– they can be raised vegetarian, in low impact situations for the environment, and it is a versatile fish to cook with.
    Also, I very much enjoy your blog, as I am also a knitter! 🙂

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