This is an article I wrote for Curious Meerkat to celebrate World Oceans day 2014, asking the question "Is there such a thing as sustainable fish?"
The state of the world's oceans has shocked and worried me for years now, but as someone who eats virtually no fish at all, I've admittedly not put much effort into finding out about sustainable fish. Until now. Much of what I thought I knew was wrong - farmed fish, for example, is often worse than wild-caught - and I learnt a great deal more, as well. I hope this article may be useful for those who do eat fish but want to do so with minimal environmental cost. At least at the moment, that is a depressingly difficult (although not impossible!) task.
Globally, seafood represents 15% of animal protein consumed by humans, and the fishing industry employs around 35 million people world wide. Fish are big business, but not for long. That business is set to vanish in the next few decades, unless we make some major changes. Massive cuts to global fishing quotas and to our consumption of fish are necessary if we are to avoid totally eradicating all remaining edible fish in the space of a generation. The loss of our fish would be catastrophic - millions of people unemployed, millions of people without adequate nutrition, a collapse of the ocean ecosystem and the loss of many crucial ecosystem services. But for us consumers, what can we do? Is there any way to sustainably include fish in our diets?