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The Environmental Impact of Eating Seafood

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The Environmental Impact of Eating Seafood

“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.


Its 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 worlds fisheries will have collapsed by the year 2048.“ [1]

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

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Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati

Gentle World is a vegan intentional community and non-profit organization, whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making such a transition. For more information about vegan food and other aspects of a vegan lifestyle, visit the Gentle World website and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.


+ add your own
5:05AM PDT on Jun 23, 2014

thanks for sharing :)

9:11PM PDT on May 7, 2014

Past Member in a lecturing Miss R kind of way (certainly not Miss Manners) tells Sandra A that because she eats prawns, it means 'more disease' for her and goes on about her being supposedly 'selfish.'

It is fascinating how some vegans insist that anyone eating animal products will automatically get sick. Many omnivores eat animal products that are from organic sources as well. It depends where the prawns are caught for one thing.

3:24AM PST on Mar 7, 2014


10:23PM PST on Feb 17, 2014

Good info

8:27AM PST on Jan 10, 2014

This Is one of the reasons I hate when vegetarians say it's okay to eat fish since they don't think it's a real animal. Hate to break it to you but a "vegetarian" who eats fish but no other meat is called a pescetarian . Fish have feelings too.
However If their is some kind of health reason that you need to eat meat , wild meat is always a more humane choice over factory farmed meat.

7:59AM PST on Jan 6, 2014

@Sandra A. (5 posts below)
It also means more disease for you. ;) And it means you're cruel and selfish. Congratulations!

7:57AM PST on Jan 6, 2014

Really hurtful and heartbreaking. All the cruelty men invented just to mass-kill animals never fails to amaze me, amaze me in a bad way, of course. This is disgusting. And it provokes the sh*t out of me when people think fish can't feel. Hypocrites need to STFU. >:(

5:46AM PST on Jan 4, 2014

Thank you Alisa, for Sharing this!

7:45AM PST on Jan 3, 2014

Sadly there's no such thing as humane fishing!

4:54AM PST on Jan 3, 2014

Horrible. All seafood will be farmed in the future--much is already farmed. I stopped eating seafood when I saw my mother put live lobsters into a large pot with water-not even boiling water. The excruciating painful sounds I heard i'll never forget. She finally stopped this cruelty years ago. Thanks

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