Ethical arguments against eating meat usually take a backseat for fish eaters, who focus mostly on what they believe to be the health benefits of including fish in their diet. Omega 3 fatty acids are considered the healthiest part of eating fish, however, this beneficial fatty acid can be found, and is actually more easily absorbed, in a plant based diet. Flax seeds, radishes and chia seeds are all good ways to get these nutrients.
Overfishing is becoming an increasingly larger problem for marine life every day. The rate of depletion of fisheries has increased more than four times in the last forty years. According to a 2006 study called, “Impacts of biodiversity loss on ocean ecosystem services”, if current trends continue, world food fisheries could collapse entirely by 2050. The fishing industry is simply unsustainable. WWF predicts that the population of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna will disappear within three years unless catches are drastically reduced. Destruction to marine life is just as important of a concern as deforestation is. Our biodiversity is threatened majorly with the amount of fish that are caught everyday for meat. According to a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate, over 70% of the world’s fish species are either fully exploited or depleted. With demand for fish meat rising, more destructive methods of fishing are used worldwide, more overfishing occurs, and the more harm it causes to not only marine mammals, but also to entire ecosystems.
The FAO has reported that the numbers of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing have risen in certain areas due to fisherman attempting to avoid rules for declining fish stocks. The shot term “solution” that the fish industry has for this problem is making fish farms. The world of Aquaculture is not all that different from factory farms, and the environmental damage being inflicted by these fish farms is becoming more of an issue. Toxic runoff from fecal matter and other waste is running rampant in our rivers and polluting our water. Many chemicals, antibiotics, and anti-fouling agents are used in Aquaculture. These strong, toxic chemicals lower oxygen levels in water, making a deadly home for all marine life.
If you think the effect of fishing on the environment is bad, just wait until you find out how this forgotten meat affects your health. Fish have very high levels of mercury in their flesh and the meat is very acidic. When the acid levels in your body rise, your body stores fat around your internal organs in order to protect them from it. This will cause you to gain weight and keep it, because the fat will be nearly impossible to keep off if the body is using it for protection. Mercury has a much more dangerous effect on your body, however, as high levels of mercury is deadly, and it is easily absorbed through your intestines. One quarter of adult New Yorkers have elevated levels of mercury in their blood from fish consumption. Mercury can impair memory, ability to learn, and behavior. It can also damage the immune system and the heart. Even in small quantities, mercury in women can cause severe birth defects and neurological damage in fetuses. Mercury tends to accumulate in the brain and liver, and will slowly work its way through these organs, poisoning cells along the way. Although many nutritionists say that fish is healthy in moderation, it is still unknown exactly how much mercury it takes to get to fatal levels in humans.
Overfishing and aquaculture not only pose environmental threats, but they threaten the health of the public as well. I don’t support these practices and hope that my words can encourage you to stop supporting them as well. The final vote is cast by your dollar.