As I discussed previously, we humans are who we are in part because of a fish/shellfish diet that allowed for advanced brain development. Without these items in our diet, I think it is doubtful that our hominin ancestors would have advanced much beyond the bonobos/chimps. What will happen if we no longer have access to these food sources?
Given that we live on an ocean planet, this fear would seem pointless. The world ocean is vast and immensely deep. And yet, we are destroying its productivity at frightening speed. The 1990s saw the total collapse of what had been one of the most productive fisheries on Earth: the cod fishery of the Georges Bank off Newfoundland. Almost overnight, families who’d produced fishermen for generations were suddenly out of work. A great book on the story of cod is Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky. Cod were once so large and numerous that they could be scooped from the sea with buckets. Now they are so scarce and tiny, that fishing for them is under extremely strict regulation and management. Without such management, cod have little chance of rebuilding a healthy, sustainable population.
But it isn’t just cod. Factory ships are scraping the seabed clean of everything, whether they want it or not. Unwanted sea life is dumped overboard becoming sea death. These ships are devastating the seas and the livelihoods of traditional fishing groups, and destroying the life of the seabed. They are also threatening the survival of seabirds who rely on these same sea food sources the factory ships are harvesting or destroying with abandon. More information on the problems associated with overfishing can be found at Oceana.org.
Tuna and salmon are especially problematic fish whether wild caught or farmed. Farmed salmon develop lice that spread to wild salmon. Catching wild tuna and salmon with factory ships has all the problems mentioned above. The best thing to do is to quit eating tuna and salmon. Switch to sardines. Get all the brain and health benefits of eating fatty fish without the problems associated with tuna and salmon. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has developed Seafood Watch which gives guidance on the best fish and seafood to eat and which should be avoided in order to preserve ocean productivity.
We still have so much to discover about the world ocean. How can we continue to support activities that will destroy it before we are truly able to explore the Deep in all its glory?
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