In “Go Fish,” Mackensy Lunsford shows that it can take a good deal of effort to identify so-called environmentally friendly seafood choices [July 20 Xpress]. Yet it’s much more difficult than she noted. Scientists using DNA technology recently revealed that 20 to 25 percent of seafood products are fraudulently labeled, with the rates of fraud in some species found to be as high as 70 percent. The report by Oceana, “Bait and Switch, How Seafood Fraud Hurts Our Oceans, Our Wallets, and Our Health,” is available at http://avl.mx/45.
Should you somehow identify “sustainable” seafood, keep in mind that commercial fisheries employ giant vessels the size of football fields, using nets that are miles in length. Accordingly, today’s “sustainable” choice is tomorrow’s endangered species. And then there is the issue of “by-catch,” since most commercial fishing operations seek a specific species and dispose of the rest. For example, for every shrimp caught by nets dragged behind boats in the Gulf of Mexico, over four times its weight is made up of by-catch. Now factor in the fossil fuels used by refrigerated ships, planes, trains and trucks to bring fish to America from the far corners of the world. Does all this fit into your definition of environmentalism?
During a 2007 talk at Warren Wilson College, world-renowned oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle expressed her view that man’s callous disregard for marine life has brought the future of ocean life to the brink. She thought we had, perhaps, a 10-year window of opportunity to save the oceans.
As noted by food author Michael Pollan, “The single most important thing any of us can do to shrink the environmental footprint of our eating is to cut back on our meat eating. Doing so has a bigger impact than eating local or organic.”
— Stewart David