Confessions of a fish lover

I came across an interview conducted by mongabay.com on marine scientist Jennifer Jacquet’s (Guilty Planet) call for some individuals to refrain from eating seafood.  It is definitely worth a read.

“I do not believe that all people should give up eating seafood. But I believe that people for whom seafood is a luxury product should consider abstaining, particularly if it is not too much of a sacrifice,” Jacquet said. “I certainly believe there should be a conservation group out there advocating this position, too, because fish need a wider spectrum of voices. Currently, almost every campaign relates to fish and invertebrates as commodities rather than wildlife.”  Mongabay.com, 2009

Considering my wife and I, for all practical purposes, have given up seafood after a longtime bout of a ban on shrimp, I wanted to expand on the comment I left on ‘A Call to Give Up Seafood.’

Fish need an animated icon akin to the panda bear that will evoke an emotional response and drive conservation efforts.  By showcasing the plight of such public-friendly creatures like birds  and whales (as you indicated), organizations and conservation efforts can also work to protect lesser known species.  With this in mind I completely agree that campaigns must equate fish/invertebrates  to wildlife as opposed to mere commodities.

Unfortunately, I have found many individuals to either be unaware of the overfishing crisis, lazy in making a concerted effort to make safe seafood choices, or simply indifferent because seafood continues to fill restaurant menus, grocery store shelves, and fish markets.

(And those who do want to be responsible are often misled by some farmed species that are eco-unfriendly.)

Perhaps it is the lack of marketable ‘spokesfish’ that has driven campaigns towards referring to fish/invertebrates as commodities. Hence, the hope is that appealing to the pocketbook of individuals, communities and commercial fisheries operations will promote long-term sustainability. But the battle still rages as fish, crabs, and a host of other species are drawn from the oceans in an attempt to quell a population’s daily appetite.

Fish and invertebrates are wildlife indeed.  Considering they draw millions of people to reefs and aquariums each year there is obviously a love of fish, but maybe it is the respect they lack.  I am a fish lover. I love to watch them forage for food, I love to watch them in shoals, I love to watch them school, I simply love to watch them interact with the environment and I find nothing better than floating in the current over a reef observing ocean WILDLIFE.  Tranquility at its best…just ask any aquarist (responsible fish keeping please!), snorkeler, and diver.  And I give them the utmost respect.

Obviously I am not alone, but the vastness of our oceans and the continued stocking of seafood has given rise to the general population’s false sense of security that fish always have and always will be available.  Because of that it has become second nature not to give the origin of seafood a second thought.

So, does anyone have a ‘spokesfish’ in mind to expand the call for sustainable fishing practices and appeal to the masses?

About The Author

Scott serves as Director of Development & Communications for Audubon Canyon Ranch (focusing on preservation, education and conservation science) and has almost fifteen years of experience spanning for-profit and nonprofit sectors in biotech, wildlife conservation and management, communications, and philanthropy. In addition to a strong track record in organizational growth and leadership, he is the founder of Urban Bird Foundation and Burrowing Owl Conservation Network, and presided over ECHO Fund, a coastal protection and restoration organization, as President for four years. Scott holds an M.A. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Development and Policy, degrees in Micro & Molecular Biology and Environmental Sciences, and has complemented his studies with a Master's certificate in Environmental Resource Management.

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