“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”
- Mother Teresa
What did the seas look like 100 years ago? 200 years ago? These were the questions that floated through my mind as I snorkeled off the coast of Hawaii — unicornfish (kala), Dussumier’s surgeon (palani) and needlefish (aha) drifting in and out of sight. The fish in this particular bay were used to people gawking at them and seem indifferent to my presence. But I know they ought to be more cautious.
After I finish my swim and exit the water, two young men confirm my suspicions as they walk towards the water; knit-bags, diving snorkels and spears in hand. There will soon be fewer fish in the sea…
While the government subsidies that most large-scale fishing operations receive are a large part of why sea animals are available for “widespread consumption” and “affordable to the masses,” it is each individual’s choice to eat these animals that keeps commercial fishing operations digging deeper and deeper into our oceans for their next meal ticket.
It‘s Never Enough (“overfishing“)
“By 1989, when about 90 million tons (metric tons) of catch were taken from the ocean, the industry… hit its high-water mark, and yields have declined or stagnated ever since. Fisheries for the most sought-after species, like orange roughy, Chilean sea bass, and bluefin tuna have collapsed. In 2003, a scientific report estimated that industrial fishing had reduced the number of large ocean fish to just 10 percent of their pre-industrial population.“ – National Geographic
Because we have decimated the large ocean fish population, commercial fishing ships are going after smaller species (down the food chain) and going deeper in the ocean.
“This so-called ‘fishing down’ is triggering a chain reaction that is upsetting the ancient and delicate balance of the sea’s biologic system. A study of catch data published in 2006 in the journal Science grimly predicted that if fishing rates continue apace, all the world‘s fisheries will have collapsed by the year 2048.“ 
To be clear, my concern is not over the world’s fisheries collapsing, but rather the number of species that are being wiped out for the sake of appetite and our apathy over their plight.
Next: How seafood gets from the ocean to your plate