Crazy winter notwithstanding (while droughts continue in the Southwest), I’ll refrain from a climate change harangue. Instead, today’s brief environmental lecture is about one of the most obvious aspects of human-caused global change: the destruction of species. And it’s also about one of the changes that is hurting our own species most directly: the collapse of ocean fisheries.
Humans need certain oils found mainly in fish. There’s even some scientific thought to the effect that access to fish or shellfish a few million years ago was a key factor upgrading our ancestors’ brains from the hominid stage to the human level. Such food has been highly prized ever since, but in the past century our industrial fishing fleets and our soaring population have caused several seafood species to crash to the point where they are no longer usable resources. Maybe the most famous case is the Atlantic Cod that used to cover the Grand Banks even more than the buffalo used to cover the Great Plains.
If you think the future of fisheries is important to your health and to global security, you’ll want to read a short new book called The Perfect Protein by Andy Sharpless, who is CEO of the advocacy group Oceana. He spells out the problems, but he also offers doable ways that individuals and countries can include fish in their diets and still help turn things around, at least for some of the species. What’s more, he includes lots of recipes.
One hint, though: When the server asks what you want on your pizza, include the anchovies. As I said, change.