The first time I heard someone say that nine out of ten of all the big fish in the ocean are gone, it was James Gustave Speth speaking at the World Affairs Council. But I didn't believe him. I tried to convince myself I'd heard him incorrectly. That he was a kook. I looked at his bio again - Dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale.

Then I looked around the room. No one, well, other than Mr. Speth, seemed too concerned. I left confidant that I'd missed a clarifying precursor to the nine out of ten missing big fish. I often miss things.

Then I read Bottomfeeder, How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood. The author, Taras Grescoe, wrote about the missing big fish but he also wrote about the little fish still plentiful that he loved to eat. I focused there and tried fresh sardines and then stayed away from seafood for the most part. Eating it was too overwhelming to consider; the mercury, the way it was caught or grown, where it came from. I needed to let the ocean settle before I put any part back on my plate.

Last night I saw Ted Danson talk about acting and his work with Oceana. And I heard that line again, "Nine out of ten big fish are gone from the oceans as a result of over fishing." He was literally on the edge of his chair, a posture he never took when reminiscing about acting. He looked ready to spring up and pace the stage. He gave more facts but I was still repeating the first one and then the lights were turned up for questions.

A young woman asked, "What can we do to help the ocean."

"Become activists," he replied. "Eat sustainably caught fish that's low in mercury."

There were more questions about his twelve years on Cheers, other roles he'd played. Not another question about the ocean.

I wish I'd stood up, taken the microphone and asked Ted Danson to repeat the first line one more time, "Nine out of ten big fish in the ocean are gone as a result of commercial fishing." Maybe then I would believe it. I'm still reasoning that it must be some other ocean. Not my ocean. Ha.


Kel said...

nope. tragic isnt it. our kids are a bit fed up going out for dinner with us...thankfully they are vegetarians who dont eat fish but they still ask 'is it ok to have...'. its a bit boring being so mindful, but those ricotta stuffed zucchini flowers are damn good!

Kel said...

as a huge cheers fan from the 80's i might been jsut a bit cheers focussed too..glad i wasnt there! woulda let the team down.

Daphne said...

Not only are we over fishing, but the way we fish is changing the fish. We catch the big ones and throw back the little ones. This puts evolutionary pressure on the fish to breed when they are smaller. Over time this had been creating fish that are smaller than the previous generation.

Farmgirl Susan said...

Hello! I just found your blog and am so glad I did - though I admit to feeling a pang of envy being reminded of all the wonderful seasonal produce (in January!) available in my old stomping grounds.

The name of your blog on a blogroll caught my eye (I love kale), and your posts have reeled me in. Looking forward to reading more. : )

Lisa said...

No way, Katrina!!! I was there seeing Ted Dansen too!! How crazy that we didn't run into each other. It was a great evening, wasn't it?? They are great, and I'm inspired by Oceana as well. :)

Donna said...

Ive never heard that stat before, but I can believe it -- it fits with other ways we're ruining our environment. The one good thing, though, is how quickly something like fish populations can recover if we change our ways.

Last year the state of Oregon didn't allow salmon fishing off the coast because the numbers of salmon coming in were in the 10's of thousands. This year, I heard they're projecting 300,000. Amazing.

kale for sale said...

Kel - Somehow I get the idea you are rarely boring!

Daphne - I also heard someone talk about loosing the knowledge of the big fish. They're like the old growth forests or the elders of the tribe. Except they're completely different but yes, losing them changes the evolution of the things. Thanks for bringing it up.

Farmgirl Susan - It is amazing having local food all year but more amazing that until a year and a half ago most of my food came from other places.

It's always good to meet another kale eater. Thanks for stopping by.

Lisa - I wish I would have seen you. It was a good evening and I wish they would have talked about the ocean more although I did enjoy the story about the Clintons. That's what I should have asked - Have you talked to the Clintons about the oceans?

Donna - And one good thing Bush did was establish marine sanctuaries which makes me hold hope.

That's great news that the salmon runs are expected to increase. Really great news. But check this bit of news that came out in the last couple of days.

audrey said...

Thanks for keeping this issue at the forefront. All fish are not equal.

kale for sale said...

Audrey - Thanks. Sometimes I think of those big old fish like dinosaurs.

Michelle said...

The Monterey Bay Aquarium also has a very useful and up to date seafood guide and lots of conservation info on their website http://www.mbayaq.org/. Come visit sometime, the website or the aquarium.

Like Farmgirl Susan, your blog name caught my eye. I'm a kale lover too. I like what I see here!

kale for sale said...

Michelle - Thank you for mentioning the Monterey Aquarium too! Yes, they have a wonderful fish eating seafood guide. Pocket size.