Wednesday, 29 June 2011

One Fish, Two Fish, Billions of Fish?

I've never been a fish eater.  I've always found that it tastes gross and as a child I remember my sister choking on a small bone.  It wasn't practical, didn't please my taste buds, and stunk.

I think I have much better reasons today for not consuming life from the sea.  I've never understood the people who are "vegetarians" but continue to eat fish - and some have even coined the term "pescatarian" to disassociate themselves from the "cruelty" of eating farm animals. While this is, for obvious reasons, a very admirable first step, I'd like to challenge the thinking behind continuing to eat fish and seafood.

In recent studies, it has been determined that fish are extremely sentient beings that feel pain as much as birds and mammals.  Period.  They feel it when they get their mouths hooked by a fisherman, they feel the crush of a 100,000 of their fellow species in commercial nets.  They share the same survival instinct when they are pulled from their homes and slaughtered for our culinary pleasure.

I recall when I was about 11 years old going to the East Coast of Canada - to Nova Scotia, and doing the "tourist" visit of a small fishery.  I still remember the auger pulling the fish from the huge holding tanks, and mechanically positioning them on an assembly line to have their heads sawed from their writhing bodies.  Perhaps this is why I didn't ever enjoy eating fish - it is the only slaughterhouse I've ever visited.

If compassion isn't reason enough to consider not adding sea life to your plate, consider the tremendous effects that fish consumption is having on the environment and our oceans. In recent years, the global fishing industry has increased more than any other food industry.  According to the global marine catch has increased more than 4 times in the past 40 years.  Along with this increase comes the full effect of how this industry works.  Fishing nets don't discriminate - also reports that over 25% of all fish caught for human consumption never make it to market - all 27 million tons are thrown back into the sea and die.  More than 70% of the world's fisheries are 'fully-exploited', 'over-exploited' or 'significantly depleted'. For more statistics from Greenpeace, click here.  

"What about farmed fish? They don't come from the sea.". The fact is that for every 1pound of Salmon meat produced, 5 pounds of smaller fishes are needed to 'grow' it.  Additionally, there are large amounts of antibiotics, chemicals, and other additives used to raise 'healthy' fish that exist only in an environment that has absolutely no resemblance to their natural one.  Farmed fishes are still fish, and are just as sentient as wild ones.

If you're not informed about the state of our fellow marine earthlings, I encourage you to take a look at a few websites to be fully informed about something that many people contribute to without even knowing.  It is my opinion, that the best way to not contribute, is to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle where you don't consume the flesh of any living creature.  Here are some links that you can take a look at.  These links don't specifically advocate for non-consumption of seafood and fish, but do give a good snap shot of the state of the oceans.

The Huffington Post
Overfishing article

It's often said that "when we know better, we do better".  I hope that the facts will inspire many more people to leave a fish or crustacean off their plate.

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