When I think of a fish, I think of a shiny and slimy creature freely gliding through a never-ending ocean. A misconception surfaced in the food industry a long time ago that drove a new diet: pescetarians. Scientists came out with the idea that fish did not have the ability to feel pain, which made it more ethical to eat fish more so then a pig, a cow, a lamb, etc. People who felt immoral eating other animals turned to fish as an alternative source of protein. Recent studies show that fish do feel pain, and sense fear and respond to stress the same way humans do. The increase in demand of fish led to commercial fishing, which directly effects the environment. The way I see fish now is much different than the way I saw them before I knew about commercial fishing:
Not only is this morally wrong to do to another species, but it effects our great oceans negatively as well. Commercial fishers practice a tactic called “bottom trawling” where fishers reach to the deepest depths of the ocean and collect fish that reside on or near the ocean floor, destroying everything in their way. Scientists have described this phenomenon to be a parallel to deforestation, impacting our ocean and biosphere greatly.
Another important point is for consumers eating these highly-stressed fish. Fish flesh isn’t healthy for you, whether it be wild caught or farm fed. Our oceans are in a constant state of pollution with PCB and Mercury. This pollution seeps through the fish flesh and into their bodies and we ingest these harmful toxins.
Giving up meat isn’t easy to do; we have been raised to believe it is where we get our protein and the bulk of our meals. But what has helped me through it is not only its impact on my personal health, but its impact on our Earth.
Lets change the misconception about marine animals and our oceans and try to reverse the damage we have already caused!
I feel as though people have less compassion for fish because they seem so biologically distant, but fish are sentient, subjective beings and it’s so important to remember that! Even humans originated from the sea.
I recently gave up eating chicken and beef as a part of my normal diet, and decided that at least maintaining a healthy balance of fish in my diet was a good choice. As I learned in one of my nutrition classes, if one is to eat fish it should be wild-caught. After reading your post, I am conflicted. Is wild-caught, specifically alaskan wild-caught salmon (which is the only kind I buy), not “healthy” either?
I really like this post. I’ve never been a fan of fish myself but I have eaten them before. The part that really stuck out to me was the fisherman “bottom trawling”. I had never heard of that before but it sounds terrible. Destroying everything on the ocean floor that’s in their way is something you would never think about since most people would never see it, but just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Comparing it to deforestation really helps me picture it and it’s just crazy to me to think about that and how it affects the ocean.
This is a really poignant post. To answer Maddie’s question above with a common response to most questions of sustainability, “it depends.” Wild Alaskan salmon are fairly safe and sustainable, while bluefin tuna are endangered and also dangerous. Bluefin tuna is wildly popular for sushi in Japan and other places, which is why they are so overfished, and, as they are an apex predator, they are highly contaminated. Check out Seafood Watch for more information: https://www.seafoodwatch.org/consumers/seafood-and-your-health