Living green, blogging, and sustainable fishing

April 6, 2012 § 11 Comments

I had lunch this week with a fellow blogger, who informed me that he increases his readership by intentionally writing sensationalist comments on controversial subjects.  This man is in his 80’s, is a respected member of my nation’s high tech community, and is also a highly regarded college professor and international author.  He and I were guests at an event downtown for millionaire investors of the institution where my company banks (my fellow blogger is not rich, and neither am I, but as representatives of high technology, we get invited to things like this, probably because we represent the sort of investments that people with lots of money like to fund).

This blogger said that his most controversial blog postings are those about living sustainably, which he says “is a joke.”  He laughingly said that anyone who buys into such notions as clean energy, sustainable living, and the greenhouse effect is an ignorant, uneducated fool.  The man was obviously attempting to bait me, because he’d already said that sensationalistic baiting was one of his most favorite activities.

Dave and I consider ourselves fairly informed.  We’re educated (I actually lost track of how many college degrees I’ve earned, but if you believe it is relevant for me to sit down and figure it out, then I will), and we understand such notions as carbon footprint, CO2 emissions, solar energy, and sustainable living.  We also understand that there are trade-offs…for instance,  an organization may engage in activities that seem counter to the effort.  Formula 1 car racing for example, does actually contribute to economical energy systems for the automobile industry.

While my blogging colleague was mocking sustainable living, I was thinking of my husband Dave’s observations on sustainable fishing.  Among Dave’s many accomplishments, he’s a U.S. Coast Guard Licensed Master Captain, and has taken many a team out for fishing on the Gulf of Mexico.  Dave tells me that he won’t allow some fish to be brought onboard his vessel.  Red Drum and Black Drum for instance, require 20 years to reach maturity, and he says why not just turn the older fish back so they can breed, and settle for the younger whippersnappers, which are within fishing limits?  This picture below, by the way, is not of Dave or his boat…it’s me on a government vessel, where I spent some time doing a graduate research project.  The bonus of my assignment was learning how to catch dinner for the crew.  Fishing, I discovered, is not as easy as it looks.  To catch this fish, I had to wear a harness that attached me to the ship, and kept me from me pulled overboard.

Regardless of my fellow blogger’s sensationalist ideas on the subject, we humans are harvesting certain types of fish at rates faster than they can grow.  It makes sense to live sustainably, and to take no more than what we need.  When you have the choice, why not select sustainable fish that still taste great?  You’re not losing anything.   I’m not sure why living green has to be controversial and mystifying.  Doesn’t it make sense to take only what we need?  Why does living sustainably have to be controversial?  Why is it that being “green” has to be left wing, and when did left wing become evil?   For that matter, when did being “conservative” become the opposite of being green?  I’m an educated person, but I just don’t get it.  Maybe you can help explain it to me.

For your edification, here are the fish that are “green.”  These fish are sustainable, meaning they can be more easily replaced, and are therefore perfectly fine to eat.  Unless, of course, you happen to be one of these fish, in which case, you might want to consider becoming a herbivore:

Arctic Char (Farmed in Recirculating Systems);Barramundi (U.S. Farmed in Fully Recirculating Systems); Capelin (Iceland); Catfish (U.S. Farmed); Clams (Farmed); Clams, Softshell/Steamers (Wild-caught); Cobia (U.S. Farmed); Cod, Atlantic (Hook-and-line from Iceland and Northeast Arctic); Cod, Pacific (U.S. Bottom Longline, Jig and Trap); Crab, Dungeness (California, Oregon and Washington); Crab, Kona (Australia); Crab, Stone; Crawfish/Crayfish (U.S. Farmed); Croaker, Atlantic (U.S. Non-trawl); Giant Clam/Geoduck (Wild-caught); Haddock (Hook-and-line from U.S. Atlantic); Halibut, Pacific (U.S.); Lobster, California Spiny (California); Lobster, Caribbean Spiny (Florida); Lobster, Spiny (Baja California, Mexico); Mackerel, Atlantic (Canada); Mackerel, King (U.S. Atlantic and U.S. Gulf of Mexico); Mackerel, Spanish (U.S. Atlantic and U.S. Gulf of Mexico); Mahi Mahi (Troll/Pole from U.S. Atlantic); Mullet, Striped; Mussels (Farmed); Oysters (Farmed); Perch, Yellow (Lake Erie); Pollock, Atlantic (Gillnet and Purse Seine from Norway); Prawn, Freshwater (U.S. Farmed); Prawn, Spot (Canadian Pacific); Rockfish, Black (Hook-and-line from California, Oregon and Washington); Sablefish/Black Cod (Alaska and Canadian Pacific);Salmon (Drift Gillnet, Purse Seine and Troll, from Alaska); Salmon Roe (Drift Gillnet, Purse Seine and Troll, from Alaska); Salmon, Freshwater Coho (U.S. Farmed in Tank Systems);Sardines, Pacific (U.S.); Scad, Big-eye (Hawaii); Scad, Mackerel (Hawaii); Scallops (Farmed); Scallops, Sea (Diver-caught in Laguna Ojo de Liebre and Guerrero Negro, Baja California Sur, Mexico); Sea Urchin Roe (Canada); Seatrout, Spotted ( Wild-caught from Florida and Louisiana); Shrimp (U.S. Farmed in Fully Recirculating Systems or Inland Ponds); Shrimp, Pink (Oregon); Squid, Longfin (U.S. Atlantic); Striped Bass (U.S. Wild-caught); Striped Bass (U.S. Farmed or Wild-caught); Swordfish (Hawaii Harpoon, Handline); Swordfish (Harpoon & Handline-caught from Canada, the U.S., North Atlantic & East Pacific); Tilapia (U.S. Farmed); Trout, Rainbow/Steelhead (U.S. Farmed); Tuna, Albacore (Troll/Pole from the Canadian and U.S. Pacific); Tuna, Albacore (“White” Canned) (Troll/pole from the Canadian and U.S. Pacific); Tuna, Bigeye (Troll/Pole from the U.S. Atlantic); Tuna, Skipjack (Worldwide Troll, Pole-and-line); Tuna, Skipjack (“Light” Canned) (Troll/Pole); Tuna, Yellowfin (Troll/Pole from the Pacific and U.S. Atlantic); White Seabass (Hook-and-line from California); Whitefish, Lake (Lake Huron and Lake Superior); Whitefish, Lake (Trap-net from Lake Michigan); Wreckfish


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§ 11 Responses to Living green, blogging, and sustainable fishing

  • I see both sides of the argument. I grew up living sustainably, meaning my family only took what they needed. However, we only saw our lives in growing seasons and hunting seasons, there was no further future projections. However, the rest of the world doesnt play by those rules and assimilation feels like a salmon swimming upstream. It is interesting to me the idea of the big picture of sustainability as my experiences with it were so short sighted. I dont think of it as evil, but a hard way to live that requires commitment and discipline.

  • viveka says:

    Great post … The Swedish food authorities, whatever they call .. have a big campaign against king prawns – because of the problem the farmers cause the environment – and I don’t eat or use king prawns anymore. Try to use lobster, langoustines and normal prawns. We don’t have king prawns in our water so all our prawns come for Asia and it’s there the farmers destroy the environment. Whatever we can do for planet earth we should do. Maybe not big drastic things, but the small things will add up eventual.

    • Libby says:

      And for us, prawns (aka shrimp) are a greener choice than lobster, because they are harvested in the Gulf, which is only a few miles away. Lobster is not local, and has to be shipped great distances to get to us, and so makes less sense for us to buy and eat.

  • Nice piece of writing to get folks thinking. Wild fish, when and where they are abundant and can be taken by methods that minimize by-catch, are still the best choice. The world is depleting stocks of herring and similar species to produce farmed fish in some cases. This contributes to a cycle where fewer forage fish mean fewer large fish, leading to fishing closures, thus increasing the demand for farmed fish…
    Every aspect of this is complicated. It is all punctuated by the fact that we have too many people on this planet.

  • df says:

    I really was glad to see this post and love your ideas as well as the list of the most sustainable fish and seafood choices.

    The people who bother me most, are those who seem to favour sustainable ideas but who seem to find every reason in the book not to try any of them as they are not ‘perfect’ solutions (don’t know about you, but I know some people like this). The absence of perfect solutions is not a good excuse for taking zero action in my book. The scale of the problems we face as a species can seem overwhelming taken as a whole, and it’s much too easy to do nothing at all.

    We have a hardcore ‘baiter’ in our lives for whom I am thankful, as he makes us think, makes me question our positions on things and the reasons for those positions. Much more useful than the people who say they’d like to do something, but who almost strategically refuse to act. I have to assume they hate the idea of failing.

  • df says:

    That’s why I love your blog – you guys are obviously always trying to do something.

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