How do we sustain our love for seafood
~ Tiasa Adhya
This is just a 2 minutes read so hang in there.
It’s about fishes and fishing.
We catch them from the wild while celebrity chefs transform them into palette-piquing dishes. The only creatures that continue to serve our primal thrills – fishes. But the issue is – how long before a numb ocean of jellyfish replaces them. This is a question that is looming over our heads no more, it is precipitating. Sounds like the same doomsday theory? Bored? But this is a fish loving Bengali writing with a heavy rock, perhaps even a huge boulder, on her heart.
You know my love for Hilsa right? Well, that dream-of-a-fish still lands up on my plate seasonally but they are not of the same size anymore and definitely a lot more pricy than before. The markets continue to be flooded with the smaller ones that are not to be caught (legally). They say that Hilsa will soon become so threatened that Bengali houses might have paintings of the fish adorning their walls instead.
Glorifying our present while leaning on the relict past – it does not get lamer than that.
That day is not far away though, not only for Bengalis, but for the whole world. When the world’s oceans will become poor and famished without its silvery denizens. Figures, we have the figures! No need to turn away from the usual alarmist propaganda.
Here it is. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
52% world fish stocks are FULLY
20% are moderately exploited
17% are overexploited
7% are depleted
In summary, almost 80% of the world’s fisheries have been depleted. More news. 90% of the world’s large predatory fish stocks are gone. Real world facts. One more example. In 1992, Canada was jerked back to reality when its cod fishing industry found not a single cod. 40,000 people lost their livelihood in the blink of an eye.
Imagine this happening in India with the scale of our population threatening to
topple the Chinese Dragon. Forget our revered dishes for a moment. Imagine our heavily populated coasts with a million people linked to the fisheries industry and then imagine no fish! And here is to the GDP lovers, fish provides food security to this country.
To much of the marginal populations residing along India’s 7517 sq km marine coastline, fish is the only source of nutrition. With these figures that I dangle in front of your eyes, I request one more thing. Close your eyes and imagine jellyfish instead. There wouldn’t be much energy left to even deal with chaos, forget omega 3 fatty acid for good heart, good skin and treating ADHD.
So, now let’s take a deep breath and relax. Here is what we can do. Changing the world is teenage exuberance stuff. What is definitely mature adult stuff is to figure out how to create ‘delta’ differences, by our own personal choices. We, the customers have great power to change things. As Spiderman’s uncle told him “with great power comes great responsibility”.
Here is the recipe for us to become heroes, they say.
- Do not eat coastal sharks if possible.They are the ocean’s charismatic megafauna, the top predators. 90% of the world’s predatory fishes are gone. So, at the cost of repeating myself, do not encourage hunting of sharks if you respond with horror when you hear of the Chinese eating tiger meat. This goes for groupers too.
- Bombay ducks, Tuna, Mackerel, Barramundi, Golden Anchovy, Kingfish, Sardines are fish that we would want to savor the taste of for the rest of our lives. Ok, but spare them during the breeding season. Let them lay the eggs. Customer feedback at restaurants to urge them to stick to the rules is your best bet to become a hero. Mine too.
- Prawns – how we adore them. My mouth waters uncannily as I mention them. But seriously, there is only that much that we can exploit. The world does not have infinite resources. So a prawn dish is definitely possible but cut that down to a special one day – maybe New Year’s Eve or something.
- Spread the word in your social network. Mention to your friends and relatives why you refrain from eating certain fish at certain times. Twitter! Facebook!
- Follow Know Your Fish recommendations for the right fish to eat!
- Write to your elected political party or officials and tell them that you are concerned with overfishing and destructive fishing methods.
- Your local newspaper almost certainly has sections dedicated for letters by readers. Voice your opinion and aim to involve a larger audience.
The other option is to watch jellyfish populations bloom in the oceans, mirroring back the spinelessness of the people who were powerful enough to have steered the ship in a different direction than to have steered it straight into a collapsing ecosystem.
Or listen to Pink Floyd – “Comfortably Numb”.
- Fishermen in Bangladesh collecting the day’s catch. Espen Rasmussen/PANOS
- Pauly D (2006) Major trends in small-scale marine fisheries, with emphasis on developing countries, and some implications for the social sciences. Maritime Studies (MAST) 4: 7–22.
- ©Kalyan Varma
- ©Know Your Fish