For those who are working to reduce or eliminate their meat intake, fish and other seafood often become their main source of protein, usually under the belief that eating fish doesn’t cause the same environmental harm as eating other sources of animal protein. But it’s not just pescetarians who are eating a lot of fish. Seafood consumption has increased and become a widely popular menu item, whether it’s restaurants offering wild-caught fish or grabbing a tray of sushi from your local grocery store.
Americans consumed about 4.8 billion pounds of seafood in 2009, most of which was shipped in from other countries after being caught in the ocean or raised in an aquafarm. That same year, about 143 million tons of seafood was consumed globally.
In some parts of the world — primarily coastal areas and developing countries — fish is a staple food, serving as a primary (and necessary) source of protein and nutrients for families. For the rest of us, however, it’s a luxury that we’re overconsuming, even though we have ample access to other, more sustainable options. As commercial fishing practices work to keep up with demands, we’re not only depleting ocean supplies at a rapid pace but making fish less available for those who truly depend on it for survival.
It’s a problem that will only get worse, especially as demands increase to feed a global population that’s expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. But the issue of overfishing goes beyond the meal on someone’s plate. The methods by which seafood is captured from the ocean is harming marine species that are already vulnerable and facing extinction.
Commercial Fishing Practices are Harming Marine Life
Sadly, commercial fishing operations use methods like trawling, gillnets, and longlines that end up catching more than their targeted species — including sharks, dolphins, whales, sea turtles and fish. This “bycatch,” which often includes injured marine animals, is then discarded back into the water, causing suffering, and putting further…