The Fragile Edge

Last night I took the cute guy to a lecture by Julia Whitty at the California Academy of Sciences. She wrote a book called The Fragile Edge: Wonders and Warnings of the Oceans. He mostly liked the parts about world currents and perfect storms. I liked the parts about fishing and farmed fish.

Let me first tell you that she showed us flourescent slides of coral reefs and striped fish with third eyes that made my heart bloom for being on the planet. There were photos of God like clear blue waters, deep albino creatures with fins and antennae that have only recently been discovered. There was even a rainbow.

And then we saw photos of the dead zone off the Louisiana and Texas coasts that is a result of industrial agriculture run off from the Mississippi River. We saw masses of floating dead fish suffocated because of a lack of oxygen.

We saw photos I hope to forget of shrimp farms with grey waters and muddier shores. I could almost smell the stink. "They make for cheap shrimp at Trader Joe's," she narrated. I've eaten those shrimp, I thought.

But the most interesting fact of the evening for me and the one that I will carry in my pocket forever is this; in order to produce one pound of farmed fish it takes three pounds of wild fish. "Are the wild fish a variety we wouldn't otherwise eat?," I asked.

"Yes," she said. "In particular to farmed salmon they are fed krill, which turns the salmon meat pink and otherwise happens naturally when they are wild but not when they are farmed."

I remembered earlier in the lecture and a gentlemen had her repeat this during questions at the end, that the krill populations have decreased 80% worldwide since 1950. The decrease is primarily due to the melting of the Artic which is happening at a record rate as we already know. The Artic is the sweet spot for the krill. They reproduce underneath the ice. What's left of them we are feeding to farmed salmon.

Someone asked, "What can we do?" I heard some desperation.

"Pick your passion," she said. "And follow it."

Walking back to the car, the cute guy and I recommitted to eating only sustainably caught fish, when we eat fish at all.

"It makes me want to sail more," he said.

"Everything makes you want to sail more," I replied, poking him. But I knew what he meant. There is so much world to see, so many ways to be responsible and kind to the earth, it's hard to sit still and do nothing.

Update: Per a special request (Thanks, AP!) I'm adding a couple of quick reference links for buying and ordering sustainable fish. The first is a smart blog by National Geographics The Green Guide with a list of yes, no and sometimes fish as they relate to our health, the state of the species and environmental impact.

The second website has an easy guide by county of retailers that sell local, sustainably harvested fish called Fish Wise.

Happy eating!


Anonymous said...

Keep going, woman!
Your writing and love for the earth and her inhabitants are inspiring!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for adding the links to yes/no/maybe fish, Katrina. Most helpful! You are an inspiration to me.

Love, AP

JV said...

Miss Kale
looked on the web site re: Fish Wise.

Olivers Market Santa Rosa and Cotati.

Thanks, now I know where to get fish.
I hate the packages that I see at Trader Joes they look so horrid I certainly dont want to eat something that is sealed and frozen. In Hawaii, we had fresh and now I can get the same thing here and the cost will be worth it.