Overfishing — Something to think about on Earth Day


Getting in the mood for Earth Day 2012–Sunday, April 22

Like us, fish are “Earthlings” and we’ve got no business messing around in their space.

In our book and on this blog, I have written extensively about the horrors of what we’re doing to our water and our ecosystems—recognizing that our perception of those horrors probably fall well short of reality.

In a New York Times book review (“Overfishing” by Ray Hilborn) by Cornelia Dean on 4-16-12, she does a nice job of telling us what Hilborn was trying to do with his book. From her review:

Ray Hilborn, a fisheries scientist at the University of Washington, wades into this disagreement in his new book and comes out with a lucid explication of a highly tangled issue.

He talks about different kinds of overfishing: yield, economic and ecological—and it’s the last one about which I am most concerned.

  • “Yield overfishing,” in which people take so many fish that they leave too few to spawn or catch too many fish before they are grown. 
  • “Economic overfishing,” in which economic benefits are less than they could be. If too many boats chase too few fish, for example, the struggle to make a good catch leads to overspending on boats, fuel and so on.
  • “Ecological overfishing,” that is something we must live with as long as we want to eat fish, Dr. Hilborn says. Fishing by definition alters the marine environment.

Obviously, the “yield overfishing” is what leads directly to “ecological overfishing”—which is also driven by the trawling methods that destroy ecosystems on the ocean floor as they drag across the bottom. Dr. Hilborn opened the door with this statement, stating that ecological overfishing is real and…

“Ecological Overfishing” is something we must live with as long as we want to eat fish.

"Bycatch" is defined as sea creatures that you catch while fishing for something else. It is simply dumped, dead, into the ocean.

“As long as we want to eat fish” is the key issue. From reading Dean’s review, it would appear that Dr. Hilborn is among the estimated 95% of the world’s scientists and thinkers who still believe that we actually “need” to eat animal protein to be healthy.

And if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know all about that ubiquitous “protein myth” that is simply not true. You also know that the number one driver of the world’s ecological problems is the way that the wealthiest 20% of the human race has chosen to feed themselves.

We’re now raising 60 billion animals per year on land and we’re harvesting 90 million tons of sea creatures. At two pounds per creature, that works out to 90 billion creatures from the sea. For the source of this data and a whole lot more, take a look at this earlier blog: Fish-Farming — A sad “solution” to an unnecessary problem

What everyone needs to know. From Dean’s review, “Overfishing” is part of the Oxford University Press series “What Everyone Needs to Know,” which has already addressed nuclear energy and the Arab Spring and is planning books on reproductive politics and the legalization of marijuana.

Want to learn the truth about nutrition? This is a good place to start.

What else do we need to know? The Oxford University Press is covering some useful topics to be sure, but they are missing some very important questions:

    • What would happen in our world if everyone knew that we really don’t “need” ANY animal protein to be healthy?
    • What would happen if everyone knew that animal protein was, in fact, one of the primary drivers of chronic disease?
    • What would happen if everyone knew that it requires at least ten times as much land, water and energy to produce “animal protein” calories as it does for health-promoting plant protein calories?

Happy Earth Day! Want to REALLY think GREEN this year?

The number one driver of the world’s ecological problems is the way that the wealthiest 20% of the human race has chosen to feed themselves.

NY Times: ‘Overfishing’ Book Review – How Well, and Poorly, We Harvest Ocean Life

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to jmorrishicks@me.com

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

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Blogging daily at hpjmh.com…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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2 Responses to Overfishing — Something to think about on Earth Day

  1. Mike R says:

    Years ago, I read a piece in a newsmagazine about overfishing. That was the last day I ever ate fish.

  2. Jim,

    I wish I could find a glimmer of your optimism in my daily living. Last night my wife and I attended a political dinner. We sat at a table of twelve. The food ordered was as follows:

    9 prime rib
    1 salmon
    2 vegan (my wife and I)

    Of the other three hundred guests, there was not another vegan meal served.

    In a general conversation with some of the guests, they never heard of McDougall, Campbell, Fuhrman, Hicks, Barnard, etc. As for whole plant based foods . . . what’s that all about?

    They couldn’t care less.

    Jim, your optimism and enthusiasm grows every day, mine regresses every day.

    I still maintain, that we as plant food eaters, at best will always be a fringe group. There will be no world movement towards a saner, more caring attachment to mother earth.

    Let the disasters strike: We will all get what we deserve.

    Sal Liggieri

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