Commercial fishing is an abomination and it’s killing the planet

Fish, photo: Sebastian Pena Lambarri on Unsplash
Fish, photo: Sebastian Pena Lambarri on Unsplash

There is no such thing as a sustainable commercial fishing industry. Over 2 trillion fish are taken from the sea every year, and that figure does not include the 120 billion killed on fish farms. This kill is far larger than the estimated 65 billion animals slaughtered each year for meat and fur.

The critics of Seaspiracy are trying to say that fishing can be sustainable and necessary by pointing to artisanal and indigenous communities suggesting that the film is racist. That is a ridiculous accusation.

The film is directed at the reality of industrialized commercial fishing. The fishermen in their tiny boats in the waters off Africa or India are not the problem. In fact, they are the victims of the problem as industrialized, highly technological ships plunder their seas for profit.

Norway destroyed Indian fishermen
Traditional artisanal fishing communities in the Southwest coastal province of Kerala in India have long suffered from the mechanized vessels funded by Norway.

Commercial Norwegian fishing off India forced hundreds of thousands of Indians into poverty with the result that today Norway, the second-largest exporter of fish in the world (and the world’s No.1 killer of whales), is a major exporter of fish to India.

By destroying artisanal fishing, Norway reduced competition in India and increased their export sales to India. Norway is also the world’s largest producer of farm-raised salmon.

Pirate fishing is also a major problem, and many of these illegal operations are funded by companies in Spain and China. Untraceable trans-shipping of fish at sea makes it difficult to track fish catches.

Who are the pirates of Somalia?
Why is piracy becoming a problem now in the West African Gulf of Guinea? The answer is desperate artisanal fishermen forced into piracy by the depredations of the highly efficient illegal operations by Europe and Asian commercial fisheries.

When consumers order fish on the menu or buy it from the market, they are supporting the destruction worldwide of marine eco-systems. They are supporting the impoverishment of artisanal and indigenous communities. They are supporting slavery and the murder at sea of observers and rebellious slaves.

When consumers eat meat or wear fur, they are also supporting the destruction of marine eco-systems and slavery because some 40% of fish caught are rendered into fishmeal to feed chickens, pigs, domestic salmon and farm raised fur-bearing animals.

“When consumers order fish on the menu or buy it from the market they are supporting the destruction worldwide of marine eco-systems”

Additionally, 2.4 million tons of wild fish caught each year is used directly for cat food. This is more fish for cats than consumed by all four species of seals, Harp seals (Phoca groenlandica), Hooded seals (Cystophora cristata), Grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) and Harbour seals(Phoca vitulina), in the waters of the Northwestern Atlantic Ocean.

Chickens and pigs eat more fish than all the world’s puffins and albatross. This translates into a world out of balance and the antithesis of the word sustainable.

In recent years, the use of the words “sustainable” or “sustainability” has increased as species and eco-systems are depleted. It is the green-washing or blue-washing term of choice by the commercial fishing industry.

In 2021, no self-respecting environmental NGO should be justifying, rationalizing and enabling commercial fishing operations. If they do so, they are in willful denial of the reality of the threats to survival of life in the sea and on land.

Since 1950, the seas have lost 40% of phytoplankton populations from pollution and diminishment of the nutrient base provided by marine life. Phytoplankton provides up to 70% of the oxygen in the air that sustains all life.

The Ocean is the life support system of this planet. Yes,it provides food (far too much for us and far too little for other species) but more importantly, it provides oxygen and regulates climate and temperature.

This life support system is maintained by a crew of living beings and we, the human passengers feasting merrily and ignorantly oblivious at the table, are murdering and consuming the crew that sustains this life support system.

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