What You Can Do To Save The Ocean
Leading scientists suggest that if we continue to catch and eat fish at our current rate, our oceans and seas will be empty within 30 years. Over 90 percent of marine predatory fish are gone and 80 percent of all other commercial fish species have disappeared from overfishing and destructive fisheries. Today 87% of the world’s assessed fish stocks are classified as overexploited or fully exploited.
Modern fishing techniques using bottom trawlers scrape the floor of the sea using wide nets that kill and destroy everything in its path—leaving nothing behind. Long-line fishing methods used to fish tuna and swordfish, are catching and killing millions of tons of bycatch including endangered sea turtles, porpoises, and sharks that die a slow and painful death from being dragged for miles in the ocean. Bycatch is a terrible waste and nearly all of it is thrown overboard.
A recent study published in the scientific journal Nature, took 10 years to complete and revealed that since the 1950’s we have reduced the number of large fish in the ocean to less than 10%. This means that of all the large species of open ocean fish, (tuna, swordfish and groundfish) 90% have disappeared from the world’s oceans in the last 50 years.
Scientists are warning that a catastrophic future awaits us—an ocean devoid of fish in 30 years, if we don’t change our fishing practices and consumption habits.
The nervous systems of fish are similar enough to those of birds and mammals to indicate that they can experience pain and suffer. Fish behave in ways that exhibit pain when they are subjected to stimuli that would cause physical pain to other animals. They learn to avoid unpleasant encounters like electric shocks, and painkillers do reduce symptoms of pain that they would otherwise display (Fish Feel.org). Read more about fish sentience here: Fish Sentience, Fish Are Sentient, and Fish Feel Pain.
Here’s How You Can Help
- Stop Eating Fish Altogether – Our greatest weapon is the fork—adopt a plant-based, animal-free diet that doesn’t cause harm. Plant protein is equally healthy, contains less fat, cholesterol and doesn’t destroy our oceans.
- 2nd Best is to Consume Fish More Responsibly, Ethically and Sustainably – By eating less of it and only the fish listed below.
- Replace Fish Oil – With vegan plant-based alternatives such as flaxseed oil.
- *Don’t Order, Buy or Eat These Fish Ever – Atlantic Halibut (wild), Bluefin Tuna, Deepwater Fish (ALL), Eel, Prawns (wild or farm raised), Marlin, Orange Roughy, Seabass, Shark, Skate, Spurdog (Spiny Dogfish), Sturgeon Caviar (wild), Swordfish, and Whitebalt. *These fish are disappearing and being depleted beyond reproduction and replacement.
- *Avoid These Fish – Pollock, Anchovy from Portugal, Flounder, Haddock, Hake, Halibut (Atlantic, farmed, open net), Herring, Mackerel, Monkfish, Pangasius, Pollack, Red Mullet, Atlantic Salmon (wild), Scampi or Lobsters (wild), Seabass, Skate and Rays, Shark & Dogfish, Sole, Trout (only farmed), Tuna (all sources). *All are being overfished.
- If You Do Buy Fish, ONLY Purchase These Fish (Mostly Farmed) – Arctic Char (farmed), bass (farmed, US), catfish, clams, oysters, cod (Pacific only), crab (Alaska), freshwater Prawn (US & Canada), Rockfish (Pacific Coast), Black Cod (AK & Canada), Salmon (AK only), Sanddabs (Pacific Coast), Sardines (Pacific Coast), Scallops (farmed), Shrimp (farmed only) Tilapia (Canada & US), and Trout (US farmed only).
- See Fish2Fork’s List – Fish to eat, fish to avoid and sustainable restaurant guide
- Download and Follow – This FREE Good Fish Guide Mobile App
- Download and Print – This pocket-sized Good Fish Guide .
- Look at the Labels – The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) seafood eco-label recognizes and rewards sustainable fishing and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certifies responsibly farmed seafood. The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) recognizes MSC and ASC certified as a better environmental choice for many seafood products. Get the Good Fish Guide or download the Good Fish Guide Mobile App.
- Shop at the Most Responsible Supermarkets – Buy your seafood from supermarkets that do not buy non-sustainable fish (see above list), and only sell sustainable and farmed fish.
- Choose Organic When Buying Farmed Seafood – Organic farms tend to have lower stocking densities, higher environmental standards and use feed sourced sustainably, so look for the organic label.
- Avoid Eating Sharks and ALL Deepwater Fish – Slow growing, long-lived species such as Redfish and Orange Roughy, breed slowly and are therefore vulnerable to over-exploitation. Fishing for deep-sea fish can harm other sensitive species like coldwater coral that may never recover.
- At Grocery Stores and Restaurants – Choose not to order fish at all, or only order from this list: Arctic Char (farmed), bass (farmed, US), catfish, clams, oysters, cod (Pacific only), crab (Alaska), freshwater Prawn (US & Canada), Rockfish (Pacific Coast), Black Cod (AK & Canada), Salmon (AK only), Sanddabs (Pacific Coast), Sardines (Pacific Coast), Scallops (farmed), Shrimp (farmed only) Tilapia (Canada & US), and Trout (US farmed only).
- VOTE for Federal / State Representatives – That will protect our oceans, marine life and environment and support a sustainable way of living and sustainable practices. Vote for legislators that will enact stricter government regulations and agreement to severely limit fishing quotas.
- Go Green – Choose fish caught using methods with lower environmental impact, such as hand lined or pot caught.
- Oppose Fishing, Fishing Contests and Youth Fishing Programs – Suggest more humane alternatives, and non-animal alternatives, speak out against these practices.
- Learn More About the Plight of Fish – Learn and advocate for fish by commenting online, signing petitions, informing friends and family, and sharing on social media. For more about Fishes and Fishing, see Fish Feel’s PDF.
- Take Action on These Campaigns.
- Sign These Petitions To Protect Fish.
Buy and Eat Alternatives to Fish and Seafood
- Seaweed – Get healthy fats and DHA from seaweed and sea vegetables. Go directly to the source, where fish get it.
- Sushi – Order vegan California rolls, veggie rolls and teriyaki tofu sushi with lots of avocado, carrot and cucumber and tofu! Or order vegetable tempura or anything with tofu. Or have a Japanese restaurant specially create a veggie roll for you.
- Vegan Seafood – Checkout the many brands producing vegan seafood including Sophie’s Kitchen Vegan Seafood, Gardein’s Golden Fishless Filets and Gardein’s Mini Crabless Cakes, available in Whole Foods and health stores.
- Tofu – Tofu is rich in protein, contains omega-3 fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acids (ALA) and is a great substitute for fish. Season tofu with garlic powder, onion powder, kelp powder and paprika and coat with light olive oil, and bake or fry.
- Tempeh – Tempeh is rich in protein like tofu, is made from soy, and is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and ALA. Season with garlic powder, kelp flakes and old bay seasoning, then coat with light safflower or olive oil and bake or fry.
- Plant-Based Omega-3 Acids – There are many excellent ways to get omega-3 acids from plant-based sources including from: Flaxseeds, mixed greens, Canola oil, walnuts, soybeans and tofu, chia seeds and algea Spirulina.