1. Overfishing of the seas
34% of the world's fish stocks are overfished and almost 60% are fished to their biological limits. The world's population is growing steadily and the global consumption of fish and seafood has increased from 20.1 kg to 20.5 kg per capita. The demand is increasing. The stocks are falling. To be able to serve the market, people are overfishing, using new techniques, catching ever-smaller fish, and moving into deeper and new regions of the sea. The result: Scientists fear that commercially used fish stocks could collapse completely by 2048.
2. Plastic pollution
A study predicts that by 2050 the plastic in the ocean will weigh more than all schools of fish put together! More plastic than fish in the sea? Inconceivable and yet, if we do not change our behavior, soon a sad reality. The gigantic mountains of plastic rubbish are the result of the current production conditions and our consumer behavior, which is primarily based on inexpensive single-use plastic, of which only 14% is recycled worldwide. Every year around 10 million tons of garbage end up in the sea. About 75% of them are plastics. But we consumers not only cause plastic waste directly. A good third of the plastic waste in the world's oceans consists of ghost nets and lost fishing gear. So if we buy fish, we are also indirectly responsible for this plastic pollution.
3. Destruction of the environment
In addition to the animal suffering for which it is responsible, fishing causes considerable damage to nature. Much of the fishing methods used in industrial fishing cause significant environmental damage in the oceans. Bottom trawls that are dragged along the ocean floor leave deep furrows on the ocean floor. They destroy sensitive coral reefs and thus the habitat of marine life. Aquaculture also pollutes the environment: waste, feces, and pathogens, as well as chemicals and antibiotics, get from the fish farms into the rivers and seas.
4. Social injustice
It is often forgotten that our fish consumption also increases the gap between rich and poor. It is estimated that one-fifth of African refugees are fishing migrants. Since our European stocks are clearly overfished, the EU fleet must cast the nets in foreign waters. The fishing licenses off West Africa, for example, are firmly in foreign hands. The phrase “foreigners take our jobs away from us”, which is often used by right-wing populists in this country, is correct in a certain way - just the other way round: Because we are the foreigners from West Africa and through subsidized EU fisheries agreements we are taking away West Africans' jobs by we fish their seas empty. The result: Unemployed fishermen are fleeing Africa to Europe because they can no longer support their families. This was confirmed to us by the locals on a trip to Togo, West Africa.
5. Bad for health
Fish is healthy. Or is it not? Let's look at it separately from the fact that fishing is rarely sustainable. Consuming fish can be healthy because it contains protein, trace elements, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins. But of course, a person gets all these nutrients from other foods as well. Take the omega-3 fatty acids. The fish gets its fatty acids from the algae. So, if we want to consume omega-3 fatty acids, why not choose the primary source, but rather the detour via the fish? And if you don't like algae, you can simply use linseed oil, which is rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
But our fish consumption can also be unhealthy. Many sea fish are contaminated with toxic substances such as dioxin, methyl mercury, microplastic particles, and organic chlorine compounds. And aquaculture is hardly better off because aquaculture is factory farming. Due to the low population density (fish per cubic meter of water), these fish receive a lot of antibiotics, which in turn promotes antibiotic resistance.
So what is to be done?
Of course, it is better for people, animals, the environment, and the climate if fish are generally avoided. Why not Veganize your Life? In particular, it is important to keep your hands off the endangered species. Also, carnivorous fish species (meat-eaters) such as salmon and tuna. These fish are fed wild fish to ultimately obtain fish meat for human consumption. In short: these carnivorous species cannot be sustainable per se.
From a sustainability perspective, plant-based alternatives are the best choice. If you still want to eat fish, you should follow the Greenpeace fish guide and/or pay attention to Naturland certification. However, it is not just us consumers who bear sole responsibility. Rather, it is a systemic problem. Politicians have a central duty to safeguard worldwide species protection through laws in the interests of future generations.
Why not Veganize your Life?
Eating vegan or living vegan is a decision that more and more people are making for themselves. Yet, very few people succeed in switching to a vegan diet or lifestyle from one day to the next. If you would like to embark on this path, it is easier to meet mind-liked people. If you want to connect with people which are environmentally conscious and mindful and also often aim for a Vegan lifestyle, you can join a community like for example lea community or find other communities in your roundabouts.