The oceans are suffering greatly – rising temperatures, acidification, pollution, overfishing, and more – all at the hands of humans. While individual efforts could help mitigate all of the damages the human population is bestowing on the oceans, one can very easily be terminated if individuals would act together: overfishing. By choosing to eliminate seafood from our diets, we could end the cycle of overfishing.
Commercial fishing has detrimental effects on not only the target species of fish, but the entire ecosystem. First, the act of fishing itself is highly negative. The boats used are a source of pollution to the water, both chemical and sound for marine life. Bycatch is a huge problem as it leads to marine mammal entanglement and capture of non-target species leading to a great loss of life. Finally, trawling is known to destroy the ocean floor and coral reefs.
The next issue with commercial fishing is the targeted species. The species that fuel are seafood diet are largely top predator fish (i.e. tuna). By depleting the number of these key predator species, we are disrupting the delicate food web. It should be noted that a marine food web is much more complex than a terrestrial food web and harvesting animals at such high trophic levels can lead to chaotic imbalance.
Eating lower on the food chain isn’t the best solution either. Crustacean harvesting is another main cause of habitat loss as the techniques are quite invasive, destroying ocean floor and mangroves.
Farmed fish is not the answer either. Aquaculture is almost as deadly to the ecosystem as the smaller fish used to feed them must still be caught commercially. Escaped salmon have caused huge declines in wild populations. Additionally, aquacultured fish usually contain more chemicals, antibiotics, and nitrogen levels than are healthy for human consumption.
Lastly, consumption of many fish species, especially tuna, have health risks from the high levels of mercury created by consumption of plastics and bioaccumulation. If the above aren’t reasons enough to eliminate seafood from your diet, isn’t your health?
The video below persuaded me to eliminate seafood from my diet (as much as I love[d] it). As if you need more motivation to avoid fish, here are 35 more reasons.