National Fisherman's Melissa Wood shares her stories as a writer and editor covering the U.S. fishing industry.
Tuesday, 23 April 2013
Yesterday was Earth Day. On the web, it was noted in tweets, blogs and Facebook posts. For some, talking about the environment meant talking about commercial fishing.
"Fish feeling pain not reason enough for you to stop eating them? This Earth Day, learn the environmental reasons." That was a tweet from Food Empowerment with a link to a web page detailing the crimes of commercial fishing.
The "environmental reasons" were many. Basically, if the ocean has a problem, commercial fishing is to blame. The only way you can save the ocean is by eating vegan — and tell your friends.
When you hear those kinds of messages, you can direct your friends to NOAA's Fish Watch site. It provides information about species and sustainable fishing. This video, for instance, gives the basics about what they need to know to buy sustainable seafood:
Most environmental groups are savvy enough to know you can't get people to stop eating fish, and they've focused their resources in changing policies.
I may not make any friends by saying this, but it's not all bad. Environmental groups' involvement in fishery management and sustainable labeling programs has been controversial, but at least part of their message is that there are sustainable choices consumers can make.
But the message should always be to buy local first. If you buy fish that was landed nearby, you support local fishermen and the working waterfront that supports them. Their activities help sustain the local economies of small coastal communities that don't have other industries they can depend on for employment. That, in turn, helps sustain a future as one generation follows the next into a career that is hard but suits the individuals who make it their life's calling. Common sense tells you they're heavily invested in keeping the resource around for the future as well.
As they say about the ocean, the environment, the earth — it's all interconnected.
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