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February 2015    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 30, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Will You Join Sylvia Earle and Not Eat Fish?

from the February, 2015 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

As the renowned oceanographer Sylvia Earle sets out to promote her Netflix documentary Mission Blue and establish "hope spots," national parks in the ocean to protect marine life, she is also vocal about her decision not to eat seafood. As she told the Guardian newspaper in the U.K., it has been 40 years since she has eaten fish. "I think it was just getting acquainted with creatures on their own terms and seeing them as something other than pieces of meat on a plate, swimming in lemon slices and butter."

Other reasons for her skipping fish are obvious ones. There are just too many people on earth and not enough fish in the sea for their meals. The ocean is filled with toxic chemicals that contaminate the fish. And overfishing often takes out fish that aren't large enough to reproduce. But Earle is also against eating smaller, more plentiful fish that many seafood arbiters consider sustainable. "I think those little fish people are being attracted to consume, like herring and capelin, I think that's disastrous. In principle, it does make sense, but we're not starting from a healthy intact ocean. The large fish have to eat the small fish. We have choices; they do not. If we want to encourage the recovery of cod, tuna, swordfish, halibut, then we should not be taking their food. I challenge those who recommend eating those little fish. I think we shouldn't eat the big ones either, but the little ones are of value. Think of them as wildlife, first and foremost . . . We have hundreds of other ways of feeding ourselves."

As divers, should we be eating fish we swim with? Or eating wild fish at all? Let me know your thoughts -- shoot me an e-mail at

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