Eliminating Fish From The Diet

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Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) off the coast of Madeira Island, Portugal. PAULO OLIVEIRA / ALAMY

Of all the ways to transition to vegetarianism, which I am on snail’s pace doing, I just realized that the one form of animal protein that I have completely eliminated without thinking about it is fish. I cannot remember planning on doing this, but at this moment I cannot remember the last time I ate fish. It may have been 2016. But I have been conscious of the sensation every time I am grocery shopping that I avoid the fish.

image_miniSushi was my favorite treat of a meal years ago, and while living in India we were as much pescatarian as vegetarian. But that changed with a growing awareness of the challenges related to regulating the world’s seas. So I quit eating things from it. Jennifer E. Telesca, writing in Yale e360, does not make me feel any better about this–as a data point I am exactly of zero relevance compared to the total market size–but I am gratified to see a book on a topic that will help me better quantify the reasons why exiting the market for fish is a priority:

How Global Regulators Are Selling Out the World’s Largest Tuna

The international commission responsible for managing Atlantic bluefin — prized for high-quality sushi — is failing to protect this magnificent fish. The regulators’ focus on fishing industry profits points up the need to change the way we view, and value, the lives of wild creatures.

In 2010, after years of global headlines highlighting the runaway harvest of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean Sea and eastern Atlantic Ocean, the international regulatory agency managing this endangered fish capitulated. It cut the total allowable annual catch to 12,900 metric tons, the lowest level recorded. For the world’s most valuable fish, coveted as the most succulent sushi on the planet, a return to plenty looked promising.

A decade on, however, the picture once again looks bleak for the giant bluefin. Seizing the slightest hope of a population in rebound, the organization mandated by treaty to safeguard this magnificent creature — the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) — has reversed course. In late 2017, deciding that a half-dozen years of reduced fishing pressure had been sufficient to spur the recovery of bluefin tuna, ICCAT tripled the total catch in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean from its 2010 low, with the quota for 2020 soaring to a record high 36,000 metric tons. This despite the fact that the data used to calculate tonnage chronically omit illegal and unreported fishing, even as black markets proliferate; a 2018 Europol report revealed that the illegal market in eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna was double the legal one, notwithstanding an international agreement and track-and-trace technology designed to stop pirate fishing.

And so, the destruction of one of the planet’s most remarkable beings continues, abetted by the very institution that for a half-century has been charged with managing — and protecting — the bluefin and other creatures on the high seas, including sharks, billfish, and turtles.

Read the whole article here.

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