Week 3 – Overfishing

For last week’s topic (ingrained racism & micro aggression) I wrote an article which resulted in quite a bit of attention from the New Zealand media. Interviews and responding to messages has taken a considerable amount of time and suddenly I found myself near the end of week 3 without having even decided which topic to explore. So I asked my partner to ‘quickly tell me a topic’ and he picked overfishing.

While worrying to me, I felt this topic did not affect me directly (I am a vegetarian and even though my partner eats fish occasionally, I am the one who buys it and makes sure it is ‘sustainably sourced’). But then I reflected that this does not mean it is not important I understand the issue. We studied overfishing during my degree (about 5 years ago) and I remember being shocked at what I learnt. For this week’s challenge I decided to make sure my information was up-to-date.

What I have discovered

Most scientific studies indicate the world’s supply of seafood will run out but around 2050, and already more than 70% of the world’s fish species have been fully exploited or depleted. This shocks me. Furthermore, it is still possible to purchase fish that are threatened on a local or international scale.

I read about different fishing techniques that lend themselves to overfishing (bottom trawling, and other unselective practices that result in large quantities of bycatch and discard), as well as more sustainable approaches that help protect marine ecosystems. There is a lot people can do, including decreasing the demand for fish by eating less, and by making informed purchasing decision (national guides available here: http://overfishing.org/pages/guide_to_good_fish.php?w=pages)

Action

I made sure I am aware of the types of fish to avoid purchasing here in New Zealand. I also signed petitions to end overfishing created by the Ocean Conservancy and Greenpeace, and made a donation to the UK Marine Conservation Society (http://www.mcsuk.org/).

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