Stop the misinformation: the oceans will not run out of fish by 2048

This last year has been a stark reminder that we must be vigilant about questioning the information that we receive from the media. That today, as we are constantly inundated with a steady stream of the latest news, it is ever more important to question our sources, reflect on the content, and apply a critical eye to everything we read.

Last month, an article published on Forbes.com attempted to educate consumers about the status of our world’s oceans and the fish in them by painting a familiar, but largely unsubstantiated picture that has been repeatedly touted by the media in the last decade: “the oceans may run out of fish by 2048, so you should stop eating them.”

For the 1 billion people who rely on seafood for protein (largely in undeveloped countries), not eating fish isn’t much of an option - and for the many more who use seafood as a nutritious, healthful source of protein as a component of their diets, adding to the misinformation about the status of our world’s fisheries makes the notion of sustainable seafood confusing, as well as potentially damaging for the livelihoods of millions of people who depend on fishing as a way of life.

The best available evidence shows that the oceans, in fact, will not run out of fish by 2048.

Sustainableseafood-oceans-2048

Published in a highly reputable source, it is easy for the uninformed reader to fully accept what is printed on page as fact. Upon further examination, however, the reader discovers that the research providing the basis for this review is not only outdated, it is a report that has been strongly criticized and largely dispelled in the fishery science community. In fact, the very authors of this paper wrote a follow up report refuting their own findings. 

The Science.

The Forbes.com article in question cites (multiple times) the now infamous “The oceans may run out of fish by 2048” statement - a statement based on a study published in 2006 by Boris Worm and others, which despite its staying power in the media, has been largely rejected within the fishery science community, and, indeed, overturned by Worm et al. themselves in 2009. The most recent global assessment, led by UC Santa Barbara economist Christopher Costello, projected that at worst 10-20% of fish stocks will be sustainably managed by 2050, and that a majority of stocks could be sustainable by 2050 if recent management successes in places like New Zealand, Iceland, and the western U.S. are replicated elsewhere.

Overstating the direness of the state of global fisheries risks obscuring the many ways people can consume and enjoy seafood sustainably. Fortunately for seafood eaters, the best available evidence shows that global fisheries won’t collapse in the next 30 years. While much work remains to manage fisheries more sustainably, and to combat illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing around the world, as consumers, we needn’t stop eating fish. Rather, we must become more educated and informed about our seafood purchases. Making a commitment to eat lower on the food chain - bivalves (clams, oysters, mussels) - and choosing to purchase seafood that is fully traceable back to the source, you can reap the benefits of seafood without contributing to the problem. Recent legislation in the United States is making it harder for seafood harvested illegally to enter the country, providing greater access to responsibly harvested seafood. Making informed purchases drives market share away from those fisheries that are suffering the effects of irresponsible fishing - it sends a message to seafood companies and retailers that consumers demand transparency and are active participants.

By questioning our sources - both in seafood and the news - we all contribute to a healthier ocean.    

Thousands of Sharks Found on Boat in Huge Illegal Haul

The establishment of a marine sanctuary within the Galapagos Marine Reserve last year marked an important achievement in the protection of our most valuable marine environments. The protected area in Galapagos from which hundreds of tons of endangered sharks and tunas were poached last week are the world's most abundant waters for sharks. While no fishing is allowed in this region, a lack of adequate enforcement means that illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing will continue to take place.

This latest instance, involving a Chinese vessel, further highlights the importance of universal seafood supply chain transparency. Consumers have the right to be informed as to the origin of their seafood, and no illegally harvested fish should ever find entry into the global seafood market. 

Read more here.

Hitting the Trail with MoJo Coastwalk

 Photo Credit: Beth Schlanker, Press Democrat

Photo Credit: Beth Schlanker, Press Democrat

Coastwalkers Morgan Visalli and Jocelyn Enevoldsen have built their lives and their friendship on a shared love of the sea. These ladies live and breathe all things ocean, and have collectively worked on many ocean issues—kelp forest research, fisheries management, marine mammal conservation, wetland restoration, and environmental education just to name a few! These “sea sistas” met in Santa Barbara and bonded over their obsessive love for the beach, surfing, scuba diving, swimming, kayaking… any and all things ocean.

These two are no strangers to Salty Girl Seafood. We all met in graduate school while working toward our Master’s degrees at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. After graduating from the Bren School and spending a year working on ocean policy issues for government agencies, “Mo and Jo” traded in their computer screens for sunscreen and hit the beach—for 96 days!

These Salty Girls hiked the entire length of the California coastline in an effort to raise awareness about coastal conservation and public access to California’s beaches, which belong to all of us. For 1,200 sandy miles on the California Coastal Trail, these long distance hikers fueled-up on Salty Girl Seafood, staying energized with sustainable protein.

What is the California Coastal Trail and why is it important?

Always within sight, sound or smell of the Pacific Ocean, the California Coastal Trail is a public path that stretches along California’s stunning coastline from Oregon to Mexico. Right now the trail is about halfway complete. The dream is to connect the fragmented segments of coastal trail into a braided network of public walking and biking paths spanning 1,200 miles down the entire coast! When complete, the CCT will pass through every coastal community in California, connecting us with a physical path, and also uniting us in a shared vision of coastal protection, stewardship, and access.

 California Coastal Trail markers are signed throughout the trail.

California Coastal Trail markers are signed throughout the trail.

We fell in love with the CCT because it connects us to the ocean and to each other as people of the sea. We decided to thru-hike the trail to help raise awareness about the CCT and jumpstart a movement to get the trail completed. Our adventure MoJo Coastwalk was born—part thru-hike, part outreach campaign, and part mapping initiative to help future hikers on the CCT.

On May 1st, 2016 we began our thru-hike at the Oregon border. Each day we walked about 12 miles of coastline, while also filming a short video series, taking photos, posting on social media, recording our route with GPS devices, taking meticulous trail notes, hosting outreach events, and meeting with reporters. We were busy to say the least, but it was the most rewarding work ever! Inspired by mama ocean and energized by the amazing people we met along the trail, we made it to the Mexico border 96 days later on August 4th.

As marine conservationists, we loved spreading the message of coastal stewardship along the way. It is up to all of us to protect and care for the coast and ocean. There are so many ways to be a coastal steward, and we integrate coastal stewardship into our daily lives by cutting down on disposable plastic use, picking up trash on the beach, and eating seafood that is sustainably harvested.

That is why we were SO STOKED to have lots of smoked Salty Girl Seafood on the trail. Lightweight, delicious, and packed with protein, it was the perfect thing to keep us fueled down the coast. Our go-to trail lunch was smoked albacore or salmon with crackers, avocado, and cucumber. One sunny day in Sonoma we delighted in a Salty Girl lunch at Salt Point State Park. Supa salty!

 Smoked Albacore with crackers, avocado and cucumber on the trail!

Smoked Albacore with crackers, avocado and cucumber on the trail!

What was the best (and worst) part of your nomadic journey down the coast?

Our days along the CCT were full of beach walking and tidepooling, whales breaching at sunset and elk grazing at sunrise. Walking allowed us to slow down and appreciate the big and the small, from the vast, breathtaking coastal scenery, to the tiny shells and wildflowers at our feet. We felt rejuvenated by mother earth, and challenged by her, too. It wasn’t all sunshine and whales! It was also rain and poison oak, blisters and wind, being lost and tired and sore. We had to bushwhack through thickets of prickly thistle, thorny blackberry, and stinging nettle, while sliding down muddy mountain slopes.

And because the CCT is not fully complete, we hit fences and “No Trespassing” signs, were routed along dangerous stretches of highway, and were forced to skirt around rocky points at low tides. Most of our days were dictated by the tides, as many stretches of beach are impassable when the water is high. So through it all, we lived by the moons and the tides; getting in sync with the simplest rhythms in life. It was pure bliss.

MoJo Coastwalk

What does being a Salty Girl mean to you?

Being a Salty Girl is being connected with the ocean. We’re at home here. We feel wild and free when we’re submersed in the cool, salty sea. We love sharing this sacred space with dolphins and whales and all ocean creatures. We are fish women. We can fully be ourselves in the ocean.

There is a sense of timelessness when you look out to sea, turn your back on land and civilization, and realize that you’re connected with all living things. You can look out to the horizon and imagine yourself there one thousand years earlier, seeing the same view, feeling the same breeze. Being a Salty Girl is about a deep love for this connection.

But it’s also something more. It’s about standing up for the ocean. It’s about recognizing that the ocean is a fragile ecosystem threatened by development, pollution, overfishing, and climate change. It’s about working together to heal and protect the planet so that all beings can survive and thrive. It’s about dedicating ourselves to small daily actions of coastal stewardship, and inspiring others to do the same.

Being a Salty Girl is also about lifting up our fellow Salty Girls, and celebrating their work on behalf of the oceans. We are so proud to tell people about Salty Girl Seafood and so proud of our awesome friends for making sustainable seafood accessible, delicious, and fun!

Connect with MoJo Coastwalk on instagram or facebook.

MoJo Coastwalk