There are (no longer) plenty of fish in the sea.

The fish are in trouble. Collective effects of bad human behavior (overfishing, destruction of marine habitat, and climate change are driving the world’s fisheries past their biological limits. What does that mean? Many species, such as Bluefin tuna, are threatened with extinction, the vast majority of our top predator fish are depleted, and two-thirds of fish populations are fished at their limit or over fished.

Our rampant misuse and abuse of the underwater world continues in part because the results of our misadventures remain hidden: It’s easier to stumble upon a strip-mined mountaintop or a clear-cut rainforest than a trawled (think: bulldozed) deep sea floor. The grocery store seafood counter doesn’t reflect scarcity. Labels for seafood are frequently inaccurate and rarely include key information about harvest method or gear type. Most people aren’t aware a problem exists.

But consumers can make these issues more visible by asking tougher questions of their waiters and fishmongers. They also can be more conscious of supporting fishers and farmers who disclose responsible practices, and question the origin of fish ingredients in their cosmetics, dietary supplements, and pet food.

These small steps might seem inconvenient. But the stakes are high. Given that the ocean supplies half the air we breathe, saving the fish is about self-preservation, not conservation.

The Food List

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