A few years ago I abandoned my vegetarianism and started adding ﬁsh to my diet. Mostly I felt like I needed variety in my protein sources, but also there are a lot of nutritional beneﬁts to eating ﬁsh. I’ve looked at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sustainable Seafood Guide many times, but have always found it diﬃcult to consistently remember what to avoid. Reading the stories behind key “avoid” ﬁshes (as well as a few ﬁsh that are good eat) should help me navigate the ﬁsh world a little easier.
The core of Grescoe’s international survey of ﬁsh is that we have overﬁshed the larger predators (like tuna and cod) and the only way to help the ﬁsh come back is to stop eating them and go instead for ﬁsh lower on the food chain. But not necessarily any ﬁsh.
After reading this book, I will sadly avoid ever eating shrimp, as most of it is farmed in third-world countries in a manner that severely impacts the environment and adjacent farmland as well as being treated with chemicals and antibiotics. I will also stop eating mysterious salmon, as it is probably farmed and has many of the same problems (the descriptions of sea lice alone should hammer that in). I also don’t feel too bad that I never ate ﬁsh and chips while in the UK, as they continue to procure cod by any means necessary, despite the collapse of the Atlantic cod, which experts think have reached an irreversible point where cod will never return to the places it was overﬁshed.
In recent years, an industry has formed around more sustainable land meats. Of course, the less sustainable industry still exists alongside it. But in the case of ﬁsh, not only do we need to advocate for a sustainable ﬁsh industry, but the plan must include a complete dismantling of the current system. Otherwise we may see a collapse of all world ﬁsheries by as early as 2048.
Deﬁnitely a must-read for ﬁsh eaters.