Sustainable? Sounds like a fish story

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
Asheville

SHARE
About Webmaster
Mountain Xpress Webmaster

25 thoughts on “Sustainable? Sounds like a fish story

  1. Ashevegasjoe

    So, we only have six years left to save the ocean?! I get your point, and agree, but when environmentalists make ridiculous exaggerations, it only emboldens critics when the deadline passes. Please refrain from hyperbole and your letters will gain more respect and attention.

  2. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Well, Mat Cat, every smelly fishy thing imaginable has been thrown into this mix—something for everyone—which means that such conflation-of-unlike-paradigms stuff can either be interesting to parse or a royal waste of time, like trying to plug holes in a dam with a kleenex or capping off steam with your thumb or pushing a wet octopus tentacle.

    And since this scatter-gun conflation-of-issues strategy invites the mixing of metaphors, it is a good debate-club exercise in how to ensure that nothing is ever fully discussed or understood or resolved.

  3. bill smith

    He makes some good points. “Sustainable” and other such labeling are often misleading. It is up to consumers to use due diligence and actually try and substantiate those claims themselves. Relying on a ‘label’ is foolish.

    As for seafood, the oceans are full of so many poisons now-a-days, it might be a better idea to get some locally-grown mushrooms, or squirrel, or something. Local Beef.

  4. Johnny

    Sure we could stop….but from my perch these have been helpful contributions.

  5. Betty Cloer Wallace

    The croakers are really sounding off on this thread, just breaming [/brim/] with good puns.

    Perhaps finding more creative ways to operate small freshwater fish farms will help small farmers looking for new sources of income or for family consumption.

    A friend of mine used to have a small pool in a small creek in which he raised several dozen trout for his family. Enough fresh water flowed through it to keep it viable, and he fed them Purina Trout Chow–altogether not unlike raising backyard poultry.

    The larger trout farms in the region seem to be doing really well, e.g. Cherokee, Fontana, Brevard, Sunburst.

    Biltmore Estate several years ago was researching a fish farm in which some kind of fish could be hatched and raised in big mesh bags in commercial quantities. Wonder whatever happened with that?

  6. Can it be possible that the age old way of getting away from life with a can pole and some crickets and frying up the catch in an iron skillet, has become yet another method of earth endangerment? I’m picturing Huck Finn on the bank of the Mississippi becoming the icon of earth destruction according to Brand.

  7. Big Al

    “Can it be possible that the age old way of getting away from life with a can pole and some crickets and frying up the catch in an iron skillet, has become yet another method of earth endangerment?”

    NO! The ole’ fishin’ hole is yet another red herring (dang, THAT pun was unintended, really!) in the continuing politization of the environment.

    In previous threads, I contended that Mr. David was part of a movement that identified ALL personal choices as belonging on one side or the other of the left/right spectrum. Meat-eaters where clearly on the Right, along with racism, anti-feminism, capitalism, evangelism, etc.

    On Feb. 14, Davidson College hosts “The Sexual Politics of Meat”, exploring “the relationship between patriarchal values and meat-eating by interweaving insights of feminism, vegetarianism, animal defense and literay theory”.

    So, not only are Mr. David and his ilk teaching our youth that all meat-eaters are murderous women-hating knuckle-draggers, but literary works like “Huck Finn”, with the ole’ fishin’ hole, are also valid targets.

    With apologies to Mr. Obama, Let’s be clear. Their goal is NOT to save the environment. This could be accomplished by reasonable compromise between left and right. The radical left does not want compromise, it wants the absolute victory of redistributionist Socialism over capitalist individualism, and has wanted this ever since Karl Marx scribbled his first vile diatribe on class-warfare.

    OUR shared environment is just another convenient weapon in THEIR cause.

  8. bill smith

    [b]I’m picturing Huck Finn on the bank of the Mississippi becoming the icon of earth destruction according to Brand. [/b]

    no one is saying that.

  9. Betty Cloer Wallace

    @ Big Al: Meat-eaters where clearly on the Right, along with racism, anti-feminism, capitalism, evangelism, etc.

    OMG! I am a meat eater, but I certainly am not “clearly on the Right, along with racism, anti-feminism, capitalism (ummm, no, strike that one since I am a capitalist), evangelism, etc.”

    @ Big Al: On Feb. 14, Davidson College hosts “The Sexual Politics of Meat”, exploring “the relationship between patriarchal values and meat-eating by interweaving insights of feminism, vegetarianism, animal defense and literary theory”.

    Well, Davidson College always did pride itself on being rather literarily esoteric (what is “animal defense” in Davidson’s lexicon?), and they do engage in conflation (thanks to piffy for what is still my most favorite new word) of unlike paradigms. So, did Lady Gaga impact even Davidson College with her red-meat outfit?

    @ Big Al: Not only are Stewart David and his ilk teaching our youth that all meat-eaters are murderous women-hating knuckle-draggers…..

    Does this call into the star chamber the notion that if we don’t need to eat meat, the hunter part of the old hunter-gatherer theory is expendable? Hmmmm, wonder if that thought shrinks David’s “oysters”?

    @ Magnolia: I’m picturing Huck Finn on the bank of the Mississippi becoming the icon of earth destruction according to Brand. And, @ Bill Smith: No one is saying that.

    Ummmm, Magnolia just said it.

    @ Huck Finn: But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before.

    Love the Huck.

    Youth today are afraid to go out into the wilderness. They’ve heard too many scary stories about the “deep dark woods” and such. We need to be teaching them to go out there and learn that the natural world is made up of the interrelationship of parts, things eating other things, survival of the fittest (not the largest), species coming and going, and that the universe does not revolve around humans. We’re just a part of the whole feast, not the main course.

  10. Big Al

    “I am a meat eater…(I am a capitalist)…”

    Your lack of revolutionary zeal is disappointing, comrade.

  11. bill smith

    [b]Youth today are afraid to go out into the wilderness.[/b]

    Tea? China? Price?

  12. Betty Cloer Wallace

    @ Bill Smith: Youth today are afraid to go out into the wilderness.

    LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Lou

    @ Big Al: Your lack of revolutionary zeal (meat eating, capitalism) is disappointing, comrade.

    One must keep up one’s strength to fight the good fight against “racism, anti-feminism, evangelism” (narrow religious zealotry) and such.

  13. bill smith

    [b]LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Lou[/b]

    Again, what does this have to do with the letter’s topic? (the price of tea in china?)

  14. Margaret Williams

    Thanks, everyone, for a civil thread. We’d love to have any of you submit a letter to the editor as another way to engage in this dialogue.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.