The world’s oceans are in serious trouble and, tragically, we are to blame. Specifically, our appetite for fish is to blame. The overexploitation of global fish populations has tripled since the 1970s due to rising population and demand for seafood and we are being faced with the stark reality that we are rapidly depleting the ocean of fish.
It might sound extreme or seem impossible for humans to be able to empty the oceans, but according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), around 90 percent of the world’s stocks now fully or overfished and a 17 percent increase in production forecast by 2025. Essentially, the time for us to wake up and make a change is now … otherwise, we will have to come to terms with the phrase “no, there are not plenty of fish in the sea.”
The world’s oceans are in such dire straights because of the high price tag that commercial fisheries can get for in-demand fish species. The FAO states that around 40 percent of popular species like tuna now being caught unsustainably, meaning fisheries are employing illegal methods to capture fish and exploiting stocks that are in a state of collapse. Recent reports have revealed the abject corruption rife within the tuna fishing industry, particularly across Indonesia, involving child and slave labor in addition to piracy, all primarily to meet the demands for sushi from North American consumers.
In an effort to compensate for the lack of fish in the ocean, aquaculture is now forecast to overtake wild-caught fish as the source of most fish consumption in 2021. Between collapsing marine ecosystems and the growth of pollution-spewing aquaculture facilities, we are poised to cause permanent damage to the world’s oceans that will become very real within the next nine years! This reality might seem alarming, but the good news is we all have the power to put an end to this.
The depletion of the world’s fish stocks starts with consumer demand, so a simple act we can all take is to stop consuming seafood or at the very least reduce our consumption. The average person can save 225 fish and 151 shellfish a year by not eating seafood. While this might not seem like a lot, when you combine the number of people in the U.S. – let alone the world, that totals out to a huge number.
Considering oceans provide us with 70 percent of our oxygen and help regulate global temperatures, it is vitally important that we keep these ecosystems healthy. Only a small portion of the world’s population relies on fish as their primary source of protein, yet the U.S. is one of the largest importers of seafood. Given the impending collapse of fish stocks, there is a clear imbalance happening here. We can help to right this problem with one simple choice. Our future depends on the future of the ocean, to learn more about how you can use your food choices for the better, join One Green Planet’s #EatForThePlanet campaign.
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