My thoughts on fishing

I was reading this op/ed piece in the NYT about the Salmon fisheries drying up and thought to myself, again, that we're really screwing up the oceans. I'm really not an environmentalist and don't really like fish in general (either as food or general interest), so for me to be actually caring about this must mean something is really not quite right.

I don't care how big the oceans are (and they are mind-bogglingly huge) - you can't have every country on Earth going out there day after day, decade after decade scooping up millions of fish while simultaneously dumping god knows what into the water and expect the ecosystem to just keep going. There's 6 billion humans now, and we're all hungry all the time and insanely wasteful - the oceans just aren't going to keep up. Like trying to bust through the wall in your living room with just a needle - it seems like you'd never be able to do it, but if you just kept poking, day after day, week after week - eventually you'd start to do some damage... invite all your friends over and give them needles too and it wouldn't take very long at all, would it?

I know nothing of the oceanic biology really - but slowly but surely I keep reading stuff about dead zones in the water, giant jellyfish swarms or continent-sized islands of plastic garbage floating in the Pacific and I think, simply, "holy shit". Then I'll read about fisherman talking about their loss of livelihood or complete seasons canceled because the fish just aren't there and just boggle. For Christ's sake in the span of a single human lifetime, we've gone from an ocean filled with uncountable numbers of fish to an ocean that's starting to be tapped out?

All the while I'm reading this stuff day after day, I see commercials on TV for Red Lobster's "All You Can Eat" $9.99 specials and wonder WTF people are thinking! How can an unsustainable substance (we don't farm most fish) be the basis of a chain restaurant? Kellog's Corn Flakes is a reasonable brand... you want more corn, you go grow it. If we want more cow meat, we can raise more cattle giving them the corn we just grew (this may wreck the environment in other ways, but at least it's "renewable"). But fish?! Every time you eat that salmon, haddock, cod or lobster you're just basically hoping that it's already procreated to replace itself. And with more and more fish being sucked out of the oceans daily - the chances are rising that that didn't actually happen.

Ever seen those shows on TV with the fishing boats filling up their hulls with various types of seafood? Thousands upon thousands of pounds of fish, packed in ice. And then you think - this is happening, every minute of every day, all around the world by thousands of other boats just like that one... I'm sorry, I don't care how well you have governments try to regulate fishing and fisheries, it's just completely unrealistic to think we can continue doing it.

Okay, so with that happy thought, I'm off to go have myself a salad instead of fish, with big red tomatoes on top... Oh, wait.


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