Should You Stop Eating Fish?

Mermaid Chanel

Do you eat fish?

 I get this question ALL THE TIME

My answer: NO

 

When did this happen? Not too long ago. To be honest, I never liked eating any type of fish as I was growing up (with the exception of shrimp). I do splurge on occasion at sushi restaurants on tempura shrimp rolls; yes I have my faults. I’m trying to stop since I know shrimp are one of the largest by-catch fishery in the world. That means for every 1 pound of shrimp caught, there’s around 5 pounds of ‘non-shrimp’ animals caught that most often are pulled up dead in the nets and just tossed overboard.

Tuna: I find the smell repulsive. Salmon: no thank you. Those were basically the only fish I remember my mom making me when I was young. For family holidays, my aunt loved cooking lobster. While everyone feasted on that red crustacean what did I eat? Mac and Cheese of course!

After dedicating my life to conserving the ocean and the planet, I’ve concluded many concrete reasons why I shouldn’t eat fish. Without going into too much detail for my reasoning – it boils down to these key points: when it comes to detrimental fishing practices, over-fishing, mercury poisoning, the extremely high percentage of mislabeling of fish in stores/restaurants,  failed fishing law enforcement, and so forth… It is easy for me to pass on eating fish.

One of my marine science heroes is Sylvia Earl. After reading the article featured below the other day, it was like a breathe of fresh air. Dr. Earl explains so beautifully why she also doesn’t eat fish – and it was perfect. I agree with everything she says – let me know if this changes the way you think about eating fish now.

 

Article Below Credited to : Natasha Scripture from Idea.Ted.Com

Oceanographer (and TED Prize winner) Sylvia Earle (TED Talk: My wish: Protect our oceans) has spent half a century campaigning to save the world’s seas. A new Netflix original documentary about her life’s work sheds light on the environmental impact of the commercial fishing industry and Earle’s crusade to create underwater “hope spots” through her organization, Mission Blue. After watching the film, it’s hard not to wonder: Are any fish still okay to eat? We turned to our favorite aquanaut for advice. Below, check out Earle’s take on wild fish, tuna rolls, and her ideal meal.
To restore the ocean ecosystem, you’re saying we must put an end to overfishing and bottom trawling, which you liken to “catching songbirds with a bulldozer.” Is there such a thing as eating fish responsibly these days?
Except for those living in coastal communities — or even inland if we’re talking freshwater species — for most people, eating fish is a choice, not a necessity. Some people believe that the sole purpose of fish is for us to eat them. They are seen as commodities. Yet wild fish, like wild birds, have a place in the natural ecosystem which outweighs their value as food. They’re part of the systems that make the planet function in our favor, and we should be protecting them because of their importance to the ocean. They are carbon-based units, conduits for nutrients, and critical elements in ocean food webs. If people really understood the methods being used to capture wild fish, they might think about choosing whether to eat them at all, because the methods are so destructive and wasteful. It isn’t just a matter of caring about the fish or the corals, but also about all the things that are destroyed in the process of capturing ocean wildlife. We have seen such a sharp decline in the fish that we consume in my lifetime that I personally choose not to eat any. In the end, it’s a choice.
What if I just want to have a tuna roll every once in a while, as a treat? Would that be so bad?
Ask yourself this: is it more important to you to consume fish, or to think of them as being here for a larger purpose? Today, marine fish are being caught with methods that our predecessors could not even imagine. Our use of large-scale extraction of wildlife from the sea is profoundly detrimental to the environment. We’re using modern techniques capable of taking far more than our natural systems can replenish. Think about it — the factory ships that use enormous nets or log lines, some of which are 50- to 60-miles long, with baited hooks every few feet, they take more than can be replenished naturally, and they take indiscriminately. Worst of all are the bottom trawls that scoop up the whole ecosystem. And most of what’s taken in them is simply discarded. With respect to the ocean systems, they’re just leaving a hole. A huge space that is not going to be filled overnight. It’s not eco-conscious to eat tuna — maybe thousands of plants make a single pound of Blue Fin Tuna. It’s also difficult to replenish that species of fish, as they take years to mature. Not to mention that you’re consuming all of the toxins that the fish has consumed over the years.
Sometimes it gets confusing. We’re told not to eat so many things already — like not to consume cows, pigs or chickens from factory farms for both health and moral reasons. Now you’re saying we shouldn’t eat fish either. Does that mean we should all follow a plant-based diet, for both health and moral reasons?
It’s obvious. It’s not a matter of me saying so. It’s not a matter of opinion. There’s no question that a plant-based diet is better for you and better for the planet. If you ask me, the best thing is a plant-based diet — or a largely plant-based diet, with small amounts of meat coming from plant-eating animals. I’m not saying that you have to stop eating meat, but think about what it takes to make a plant compared to what it takes to make a plant-eater, like a cow, chicken or pig. Even carnivores on land are lower on the food chain than most fish. Think of a tiger or lion or a snow leopard. They eat plant-eating animals. They eat rabbits or deer. So, food chains on land tend to be fairly short. Over 10,000 years, we have come to understand that it’s far more efficient not to eat carnivores. We eat grazers, the ones that we choose to raise, such as cows and pigs. Perversely, many of the animals that are natural grazers, we are force feeding wild fish. We’re taking large quantities of ocean wildlife, grinding them up, and turning them into chicken food or cow food or pig food — or even into fish food.
IF YOU HAVE TO EAT MEAT, OR RATHER CHOOSE TO EAT MEAT, EAT ANIMALS THAT EAT PLANTS.
So if you have to eat meat, or rather choose to eat meat, eat animals that eat plants. In the case of fish, there are long and twisted food chains — for example, the tuna that eats fish that eats fish that eats fish. We choose to go high up the food chain when we eat halibut or swordfish or tuna or lobster, but ultimately that’s not what’s good for us or for the ocean.
You’ve mentioned that a sea bass can live up to 80 years and that we’re often unaware of how old the fish is that we’re consuming. Why is that important to consider?
We need to consider the bioaccumulation of what’s in the ocean. Mercury concerns exist with good reason, especially when eating carnivorous fish like tuna, swordfish, halibut, and orange roughy. It’s not the smartest thing for our personal health because of what accumulates in these top carnivores over the years. If you want to eat responsibly, not just for your health but again for the health of the planet, know that the longer an animal is exposed to the world as it is today, the greater the chance of accumulating the toxins that now exist within the ocean or within freshwater, or even on land. What farmers choose to grow for consumption — for economic and taste reasons — tend to be young animals, like chickens, barely a year old, not 10-year-old hens. In fact, hens don’t usually get to be that old. We eat cows young — yearlings, sometimes two-years-old, but not 10 or 20 years old. We eat far more animals that are a few months old, not years in the making. But in the ocean, it takes 10-14 years for a Blue Fin tuna to mature, let alone to reach its full potential. So let’s say you take a young tuna, 10-years-old — think of how many fish have been consumed in a 10-year period to make even a pound of one of those wild ocean carnivores.
What about local fishers who depend on fishing as a means of survival?
I do have sympathy for those who have a long tradition of making their living by extracting wildlife. I don’t think they should be targeted as the problem. But even they know that, armed with modern technologies, they have the power to extract far beyond what natural systems can produce. We need common-sense steps to protect feeding and breeding areas in coastal areas. We need to have a system with restrictions, not just be able to take stuff from all places at all times in unrestricted numbers. We have a chance now, because we now know what we could not understand a few decades ago. Smart agriculture may be an option for providing food for people who like to have aquatic creatures. But it has to be done with extreme care and with protection. We need a safe haven for these wild creatures, to recover from what we have already taken, as well as sustain what we might take in the future.
What about catch shares and privatized fish farming?
Those are well-intentioned, but not approaches that I necessarily endorse. I think that the best value for aquaculture comes in closed systems where you recycle water, capture nutrients, and do not let the nutrients that are produced by the fish escape, which is what happens in these open-sea farms. In fact, it can be a problem when you concentrate fish and don’t allow them to move around. Or even when they have these open pens, which they are proposing to float widely in the ocean. These are approaches that are aimed at service choices, not needs. These approaches continue to focus on the luxury taste we have acquired, not the need that people have for food. For food, the best value you get is in raising plant-eating fish under circumstances where, as they say, you get “more crop per drop”; where you capture the nutrients and recycle them into plant-based farms. In nature, there is no waste. Part of the problem in taking so many fish out of the ocean is that you’re breaking the lakes and the crucial chain that gives back with its constant movement of nutrients. A smart aquaculture system is not one that is in the ocean or even in a natural body of water, but one that is designed like an aquarium, functioning like a big figure eight: plants on one side, fish on the other. The plants go to the fish and the nutrients go to feed a vegetable garden, with sunlight driving it all. The fish farms that raise carnivores need to be looked at with the understanding that taking large quantities of wildlife, wild fish, to get small quantities of farm fish, is not a sensible way to run a planet.
OK. You’ve convinced me. No more fish. When did you decide to give it up?
It was a gradual process. I come from an omnivorous dining family and eating seafood was just a natural thing to do. First in New Jersey, where the wildlife was captured and consumed locally, then in Florida. But even when I lived in Florida, it was clear that the numbers were going down as our numbers were going up. Now with 7 billion people on the planet, eating wildlife has to be a luxury, except for in those coastal communities that have few choices about what to consume. Today, armed with modern technologies, we can easily diminish and eliminate local wildlife. It isn’t like 10,000 years ago or 5,000 years ago or even 50 years ago. These days, our capacity to kill greatly exceeds the capacity of the natural systems to replenish. The amazing thing is that our focus is on looking at ocean wildlife primarily as food. In North America really, it is always a choice. It is never, as far as I can tell, a true necessity, given our access to other food sources. So I choose not to eat it.
What is your ideal meal? For example, if you could have anything for dinner tonight, what would it be? A sustainable meal of course.
There are so many choices. It’s not coming down to any one particular thing. I love the creative choices that are now available that didn’t exist when I was a child. Grains that are high in protein and have much more flavor than some of the more traditional ones like rice, and variations on the theme of legumes, eaten raw or cooked or incorporated into various recipes. People think of a plant-based diet as boring. But it’s only in your imagination, or lack of it, that plants are boring. There are 250,000 kinds of land-based plants — and then in the ocean, depending on how you count, if you include the plankton — you’re looking at maybe another 20,000 that we know about, including seaweed cultivated for the omega oils that people want. You don’t have to kill fish to acquire omega oils.
One last question. You’ve logged more than 7,000 hours underwater, researching and observing wildlife. Is it true that different fish have different personalities?
The wonderful thing about life as a biologist is that every individual — not just people or cats or dogs or horses — but all living things, even trees, are unique. Every being is unique. It’s just a fact. And certainly with fish, like birds, they all have a distinctive appearance and if you’re sharp enough to distinguish one from another you soon begin to see that they behave differently. If that’s personality, which I guess it is, each one has its own little quirks. For example, some fish are more aggressive, some are shy. And it’s wonderful spending thousands of hours under the ocean getting to know not just “the grand suite” or the kaleidoscope of life out there, but also to recognize all the individual pieces.

Photography Challenge #1: Joe Platko

Firstly – my apologies for the blog-posting-hiatus. Summer is the busiest month for my work..and any free time is mostly spent trying to catch up on sleep or working out. In saying that – I will try my hardest to post at least once a week for all you great readers from across the globe. I am crossing off a Bucket List item in a couple of weeks…stay tuned to find out which one it is 🙂

I am super excited to announce my first Photography Challenge today! Here is a summary of the Challenge:

1) Find a willing and excited photographer

2) Give the photographer a theme 

3) Have the photographer submit 3 photographs encompassing the theme

4) Showcase their 3 photographs on PhotoScienceChanel.com 

5) Then I will share a photograph of my own encompassing the theme

My first Photographer participant is one of my classmates from Cal State University Monterey Bay – Joe Platko. He is an amazing nature photographer – both on land and under the water. We both have an affinity for marine life 🙂 so we get along very nicely.

The theme I chose for Joe seemed fitting for the time being here in America :

SUMMER

At first Joe had a hard time with this theme..that is until he went on vacation in the beautiful state of Hawaii. Here’s what he said :

Hey, so now that I’m back from my “summer” trip to the big island, I thought I’d just give you three images that wrapped up the trip for me. This will likely be my last big family trip, as my youngest sister is now in college, so our family thought we’d go out with a bang. That is why I decided to give all three images for the Summer assignment, and tried to choose shots that epitomized what the trip was about, aside from the family togetherness. Hope you enjoy the shots, ALOHA!

Credit: Joe Platko

Credit: Joe Platko

The palm trees were taken in the parking lot of the beach for our resort.
Lol so that was cool, shooting something everyone else was just walking by.
And I was only aimed up because if I shot dead ahead you would have seen all the cars.
Credit: Joe Platko

Credit: Joe Platko

The reef scene was taken right off of the harbor, when I was diving with my dad.
Credit: Joe Platko

Credit: Joe Platko

The turtle photograph was taken on the last day I was there, after I was bummed about not getting a single shot of one while diving. And I was snorkeling with it just north of Kona.

Thank you so much Joe for these spectacular photos! I couldn’t think of a better place to take “Summer” photos than Hawaii… I have so many fantastic memories when my family vacationed in Maui. The photo I took for this particular challenge was on one of my favorite excursions : whale watching. Well, other than a couple of sea lions and pelicans…our luck out in the big blue was unsuccessful. No whales or dolphins in sight!

But, it was honestly one of the nicest boat rides I’ve ever been on – the weather was beautiful and warm & the sea was so very calm and BLUE. I also had some great company as well 🙂

The photo I snapped to represent “SUMMER” was of these playful sea lions we pulled up to alongside the boat. After working with sea lions, I have a whole new perspective about these pinnipeds. They are such intelligent and dynamic creatures. Hope you enjoyed my first Photography Challenge! Thanks Joe for being my first photographer 😀

If you would like to participate as a photographer – please comment below.
Credit: Chanel Hason

Credit: Chanel Hason

Stop by my Facebook Page : Photography + Science = Chanel
 Shoot me a Tweet : PSChanel
Check out my Pinterest : PhotoScience

Fish Now Have Skin Cancer Too…

The black spots on this Coral Trout are melanomas.

For the first time in history, a wild marine fish species has been identified with skin cancer off the coast of Australia.

Caught on the Great Barrier Reef, coral trout have been discovered with large black spots on their skin, now identified as cancerous melanomas. One researcher documented that 15% of these fish found on the reef show signs of skin cancer. The percentage may even be higher due to the fact that some fish may have died due to illness or consumed by predators.

Researchers state that melanomas on the skin of these fish were likely due to the UV radiation and the closeness of the fish species to the hole in the ozone layer over parts of Antarctica and Australia. (No wonder I got “surfer’s eye” induced by extreme sun exposure in my year abroad in Australia..the sun really is MORE intense there!) Hence it is no wonder that Australia has the highest occurrence of skin cancer in the entire world. That boils down to the fact that 2 out of 3 Australians will be diagnosed before that age of 70. Very unfortunate…wear your sunscreen Aussies!

Coral trouts are normally orange all over… but not with melanomas. (Michelle Heupel, Australian Institute of Marine Science / August 1, 2012)

Alright back to the fish- the researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science were on the reef doing a survey of shark prey, i.e. coral trout. They saw the discoloration on the fish and after examining it under a microscope, discovered  it was cancerous tumors.

“Studying disease in wild fish populations is very time-consuming and costly so it’s hard to say how long the disease has been around. However, what we do know is that it is now widespread in the coral trout population effecting three different species of this type of fish and we would not be surprised to find it in other species as well.” -Dr. Sweet

The fish were caught off of Heron Island (where I did research on tube worm larvae!) and One Tree Island – which make up the southern portion of the Great Barrier Marine Park. 136 fish were caught, resulting with 20 (15%) showing signs of skin cancer.

Even though this is just the first published report about fish with skin cancer, I’m sure the occurrence isn’t new. Some fishermen trace it back to as early as the 1980’s. The diagnosed fish didn’t show signs of illness, but that also doesn’t mean that many of them have already died from the cancer once it got invasive. Questions and answers are still yet to be answered pertaining to skin cancer in fish- I’ll try and keep you posted as best as I can on this issue.

WHAT IS NEXT?!

Clever Whale Shark Sucks Fish Out of Net!

Credit: National Nine News

This video is absolutely amazing! Check out this smart whale shark sucking out helpless silverside bait fish caught in a fishing net off of Indonesia. These gentle sharks use their vacuum-like mouth to gulp up these little fish. Guess they were doomed either way, but I think getting consumed by a “natural” marine predator beats humans each time.

Conservation Internationalwas the environmental group that caught this awesome video footage. This group has been trying for a while to place satellite tags on whale sharks, and finally they got this perfect opportunity when they started feeding on the baitfish. Luckily the fishermen in this case think the whale sharks are good luck, even though they eat most of their catch (oops).

Enjoy those fish you wild Whale Sharks!

Amazing Photos of a 50ft Bryde’s Whale Feeding!

Whales are  beautiful and majestic creatures. They never cease to amaze me 😀

Down in Baja Mexico, some lucky divers got the footage of a lifetime! Along with swift marlin and curious sea lions, the Bryde’s whale was competing to consume a huge bait-ball of sardines.

Bryde’s whales are related to humpback and blue whales. They are baleen whales, consuming pounds upon pounds of krill and small fish. They often get mistaken for different whales in the wild.  They span across the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans.

All photos credit to: Doug Perrine/Barcroft Media

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Google helps us view the Great Barrier Reef- from the perspective of a FISH!

I saw this article last week, and I legitimately freaked out because it is so amazing! I even had some friends post it to me on Facebook knowing that I would love it.

It’s called the Catlin Seaview Survey. This joint project with Google and the University of Queensland (Sidenote: the school I studied abroad at when I was in college in Brisbane Australia), allows interface users to explore the Great Barrier Reef from the view of a fish, shark, octopus, or whatever sea creature you imagine yourself as.

Explore underwater life with : SeaView (CHECK OUT THE VIDEO ABOUT THIS SURVEY- IT’S AWESOME!)

Using the same variant of the Google Street View service- from Feb 23, 2012 and on we can now view (360 degrees) underwater of the Great Barrier Reef. Soon, the reef in Bermuda will also be documented in the same manner.

The chief scientist of the survey, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of the University of Queensland in Brisbane (such an amazing school to have studied at), stated

For the first time in history, we have the technology available to broadcast the findings of an expedition through Google. Millions of people will be able to experience the life, the science and the magic that exists under the surface of our oceans.

Seaview.org

From a marine science background, these surveys will be very important for multiple reasons.When the reefs are damaged by pollution, ships, or extreme weather, the visualization of damage by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority will be greatly valuable. Not to mention it will be an excellent opportunity for those who have never seen a reef up close and personal, to take a 3D trip to another world.

The survey team captures the reef with one camera using 4 SLR cameras with extreme fish eye lenses shooting simultaneously to conceive a 360-degree image. The cameras are attached to a motorized driver-pulling underwater “scooter.” I would totally volunteer my time to be able to man one of these scooters..they look like a ton of fun 🙂 When I did my research on the Great Barrier Reef, I had to remind myself that you can’t research without having fun and enjoying what you do. That’s one of the most (I think) important parts.

I wanted to conclude this post with a photo my friend Michelle ( http://michelleswanderlust.wordpress.com/ ) took of me when we researched for a week at the University of Queensland’s Heron Island Research Station. For any of you who have been and experience the AWE of the Great Barrier Reef, I hope you truly soaked in the beauty, wonder, and sheer abundance of life the reef provides. Live to explore, learn, and love!

Live to Explore.

My First Submission to a Photo Contest- Find out the result!

If you are an avid reader of mine- you’ll know that I asked for some suggestions last month with a couple photos I wanted to enter in a contest.

These photo submissions were for the Birch Aquarium Underwater Parks Day Photo Contest. The only decent underwater photos I have taken  are from scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, in Queensland, Australia. I truly love being submerged underwater…surrounded by schools of fish and coral reefs- a surreal and BEAUTTIIIFUL experience. If you’ve never been scuba diving in your life- you haven’t lived. Put it on your bucket list- trust me.

I got to post up to 5 photographs- which of course I didn’t hesitate if this was an option for my first photo contest 🙂  The category I able to submit to was Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s). The Great Barrier Reef is one of the largest MPA’s in the entire world- so lucky me that I had some awesome photos from my study abroad experience!

The winners were announced yesterday…and drum rolllllllllllllllllllllll….I didn’t win 😦

I had high hopes- but I wasn’t completely bummed. The Aquarium on their blog said that they were going to post a couple favorites besides the winning entries the  next day (which was today). So when I went onto the Birch Aquarium blog- I started scrolling through the 8 favorite photos…and low and behold.. I HAD A PHOTO THERE! Not all hope was lost 🙂 after all.

Here is the link to the Aquarium’s blog post showing their favorites: More Photos: Underwater Parks Day Photo Contest

You will see on that page- the photo shown below which I titled: Jail Break! 

I thought it was a fitting title because the little fish look like escaped convicts in their white and black striped attire 🙂 don’t you agree??

Jail Break!

Well even though I did win the competition- second best sounds pretty darn good to me for my first time in a contest! Smiles all around today 😀 Now I’m looking forward to my next photo contest….know of any good ones? I take a lot of nature shots- both digital and film. Thanks!

Help Me Pick- I’m Entering A Photo Contest!

Alright- So I’m entering the Birth Aquarium Underwater Parks Day Photo Contest.

This is the first photo competition I have ever entered- I’m super excited 🙂

The only time I’ve taken awesome underwater photos was at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia (not too shabby of a place I might add 😉 ). I rented an underwater digital camera for $50 bucks when I went on a dive boat- and it was the smartest thing I did! I came back with fantastic photos- luckily the visibility was EXCELLENT and the sun was out and the fish were playing.

I can enter up to 5 photos- and I have 4 FOR SURE and 2 QUESTIONABLE.

IF you guys could PLEASE help me pick the best of the 2 below–It will be greatly appreciated- Tell me why too 🙂

PHOTO 1- Reflections

 

PHOTO 2-Clown Fish Abode

Have Some Mindfulness.

Good morning!

I had quite the weekend- I didn’t have to work but I still had a lot going on 🙂 in a good way of course. From birthday parties with inflatable slip’n’slides, to wine tasting in Calabasas, to going away parties, to a Spazmatics concert…it was a fun-packed weekend!

I just wanted to share with you an awesome project one of my good friends has created- it’s an online magazine called:

Mindfulness Magazine 

Mindfulness Magazine

Mindfulness Magazine

My friend from college, Janaye, and her friend created this magazine a couple months ago. Basically it is a collection of pictures and writing from friends, family and beyond.  The stories people submit embody mindfulness, or awareness of the present moment. I think it’s a fantastic idea- and I definitely wanted to be a part of it!

I was featured in Issue #2. Check out my picture and poem/rant 🙂

I used to write a lot of poetry when I was younger actually. And I find it really cool if a guy can let some emotion out on paper as well. It’s a fun way to express yourself and what you are feeling- maybe you should write one!

Be sure to “like” Mindfulness Magazine on FACEBOOK! 

Here is my post from the magazine- I copied and pasted it on here (hope I didn’t break some copyright law or something haha). Let me know what you think!

ISSUE #2: CHANEL HASON [SOUTH PASADENA, CALIFORNIA]


photo credit: chanel hason [2009]

life is a journey, not a destination (as they say…)
without the journey, we would not take the wrong paths, slip and fall in the mud, and learn which plants are poisonous or not.
without these mistakes, we will never grow and become better, smarter, and more loving individuals.
life is funny, you see.
sometimes it slaps you across the face with a dead fish, or it gently caresses your feet after a long day.
your heart will be ripped apart, mended, stomped on, and sewn back together once again.
knowing this, it is best to expect the unexpected on this road of life.

being alive these past 23 years, i’ve seen and experienced a multitude of things you will never experience or haven’t yet.
this sets me apart.
i feel things in a different way.
i see things in a light others might have never thought of looking.
these experiences make me who I am and what I believe.
i dont need to follow in anyone’s footsteps except my own.
listen to your inner most thoughts.
follow your dreams.
if you give up, if give up on yourself.
accomplish the impossible.
for anything is possible, on your life journey.
enjoy it.