Sunday, October 3, 2010

On Fish

I realize that ecological regard is not usually or popularly placed in the framework of human rights, but I must insist that what we eat or even if we can eat in the future, really, is directly tied to human rights. As Mandy has suggested already, the treatment of animals and the quality of the food consumed is a major concern. As stated in earlier posts, fishing practices are largely on a unsustainable track. If these practices continue, we could see not only a dramatic change in fish populations and the environment overall but an incredible effect on the availability of for human beings all over the world.

The environment is, of course, important but I've found in several conversations that you must humanize certain things for fellow humans to become interested. Moreover, we (humans) are not separate from the environment; we may live in a metropolis or in the modern trappings of the digital age, but we still breathe the air, eat what can be harvested, and so on. Therefore, the two subjects should not be looked at so separately, but as one having an effect on the other. And it's a two way street.

Aside from the probably better known issue of overfishing, "aquaculture" can and is proving to be just as problematic. Paul Greenberg, author of Four Fish, looks into this matter extensively. More recently, he published an article in The New York Times about tuna (a fish I have mentioned in particular earlier on). Citing salmon as one of the earliest victims of aquaculture exploitation, he asks some pertinent questions about the fate of tuna and recognizes the sushi eater probably wouldn't enjoy Alaskan char as much. (True statement.)

The problem with raising fish on a farm is usually that the fish being raised must be fed with something. More often than not, it requires an exponential amount of more "forage fish", relative to the weight of the fish being raised, to produce the end result. So, while it may seem a better idea to raise some fish on a farm, thereby not fishing them out from the wild, it becomes just as problematic (if not more, as Greenberg suggests). This obviously has much to do with the environment and the other organisims that inhabit it, but if we are to continue as a human species and if we want to be gauranteed an adequate amount and a respectable quality of food, this issue should be considered.

As Greenberg suggests, "Perhaps, in the end, this is what the Atlantic bluefin tuna might really need. Not human intervention to make them spawn in captivity. But rather human restraint, to allow them to spawn in the wild, in peace."

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