we are emptying the Sea
[but we can change the situation]
in this page: some fish facts .. feeling small? .. how to keep ornamental fish
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eat the right fish
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^there was once a tuna^

Dita B. Vizoso


Institute of Zoology
Evolutionary Biology
University of Basel
Vesalgassesse 1
4051 Basel

> the schärer group
Fish is a very important source of proteins. For a large part of the world's population, it is the main source of proteins. From a personal point of view, fish is the best food to eat.

But if we don't pay attention to what we eat, in a few years we won't be able to enjoy many of our favourite fishes. Several fish species are presently overfished (for example Tuna, Rockfish, and Cod), with declining population numbers. Scientists suggest than in some cases recovery is unlikely.

As individuals, and especially as biologists, we must do what we can to improve the situation. There are very simple ways of making a difference. It will not only help fish populations and species, but also make you feel better, and even eat better fish.

Eat the right fish. By choosing what you buy you can influence the market. [more]

Get informed. Learn about the problems, suggested solutions, and ways to collaborate. [more]

Make other people aware. Use the power of globalized communication. [more]

Some Fish Facts
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization
March 2005

52% of fish stocks are fully exploited, which means that they are being fished at their maximum biological capacity. 24% are over-exploited, depleted or recovering from depletion. 21% are moderately exploited.

Only 3% of the world's fish stocks are underexploited.

Human consumption of fish increased to 100.7 million tonnes in 2002, up from 93.6 million tonnes in 1998.

The diets of 2.6 billion people depend on fish as a source of animal protein.

200 million people world-wide earn all or part of their income thanks to fishing and related activities.

Taken from the MCS webpage: https://www.msc.org/

Feeling small?
I've been shopping consciously for several years (i.e. choosing local produce, preferring eco-labelled products, buying seasonal stuff, etc.). It's not always possible, it's not always easy. And, worse, I am only one individual. However, one is not alone: I've talked to other consumers (which is always nice) and some of them also buy consciously. Other don't, but they often start afterwards. We tend to underestimate our power as individuals, but true is, the market is in the hands of the consumers.

So don't let the "but I'm just one person" and "my actions won't make a difference anyway" arguments convince you of not doing the right thing! For the 200g of badly caught shrimp that you might be buying, there may be a kilo of dead and dying animals that was simply thrown back to the sea.

And, from a selfish perspective, fisheries and fishermen that care about how they fish are likely to deliver a much better fish to your table. And for a longer time!

How to keep ornametal or pet fish
Here are my tips to keep ornamental or pet fish. They may save you a lot of money and time.

A lot of damage is made by people that keep ornamental fish at home. Reefs around the world are being looted so that some well-fed bourgeois can watch the temporary beauty of tropical fish from his/her sofa. People that loot the reefs are less guilty than those who buy the fish: without demand there would be no offer.

The best way of keeping ornametal fish is, thus, IN THEIR HABITATS. If you still want to lay on your sofa and watch them slowly die before you buy a replacement (very few species can reproduce in captivity), think that you may soon be buying the last one. Cool, isn't it?

We're not even helping developing countries by buying ornamental fish. Quite often their fishing is forbidden, so by buying you are promoting crime. And, as the prices in the black market increase, mafias are developed, and the actual fishermen don't get much of the benefit. Moreover, illegal fishing takes able people away from jobs that bring long term benefits and development to their families and countries.

If you still like to watch fish in an aquarium (they are beautiful!), I suggest you go to a public one, so that at least more people get the benefit of fewer fish being sacrificed for our curiosity (and one would hope that Zoos and Public Aquariums know where to get their fish legally). If you can't stand public aquariums or don't have one nearby, and don't like digital fish or dvd's, buy your fish at a certified shop, and make sure they know how the fish were caught and what their status is.

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last uptaded: 25.10.2007