30 Day Zero Waste Challenge
We begin a series of Zero Waste Challenges on the topic of Food Loss and Waste (FLW) specific to the consumption of fish. There is much written about food loss waste along the supply chain, from production to consumption, but I have not seen a direct connection regarding food waste and loss and the emergency our marine ecosystems face due to overfishing and the sickening scale of loss due to bycatch in so many fisheries.
(“Food “loss” actually occurs earlier in the food chain and usually behind the scenes. Due to inefficiencies in food production and processing, food can lose nutritional value or even need to be discarded before it reaches the consumer.” FAO)
Here’s the problem in a nutshell:
From the World Wildlife Fund: “Large industrial vessels, small artisanal boats, coastal fisheries, high seas fisheries… all around the world, fishing catches far more than is needed or wanted… Wherever there is fishing, there is bycatch. The main reason that bycatch occurs is because modern fishing gear is very strong, often covers extensive areas and can be highly unselective – meaning it catches not only the target species but also many other creatures as well.”
- We could see fishless oceans by 2048.
- For every 1 pound of fish caught, up to 5 pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-kill.
- 3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted.
- As many as 40% (63 billion pounds) of fish caught globally every year are discarded.
- Scientists estimate as many as 650,000 whales, dolphins and seals are killed every year by fishing vessels.
- 40-50 million sharks killed in fishing lines and nets.
- Some fisheries discard more fish at sea than what they bring to port, in addition to injuring and killing thousands of whales, dolphins, seals, sea turtles and sharks each year
Watch this video from Squandering Our Seas from World Wildlife Fund International
Bycatch is the incidental capture of non-targeted fish, including juveniles, and other species such as dolphins, marine turtles and seabirds.
Each year, bycatch kills:
- 300,000+ small whales, dolphins and porpoises
- 100 million sharks
- 250,000+ loggerhead and leatherback turtles
- thousands of seabirds
- billions of unwanted fish and invertebrates
“Anything can be bycatch,” says Dominique Cano-Stocco, campaign director at Oceana. “Whether it’s the thousands of sea turtles that are caught to bring you shrimp or the millions of pounds of cod and halibut that are thrown overboard after fishermen have reached their quota, bycatch is a waste of our ocean’s resources. Bycatch also represents a real economic loss when one fisherman trashes another fisherman’s catch.” Bycatch in the U.S. could amount to 2 billion pounds every year, equivalent to the entire annual catch of many other fishing nations around the world. One of the biggest concerns about bycatch is that the severity of the problem in many regions and fisheries still remains unknown. The National Marine Fisheries Service rarely reports comprehensive bycatch data and in fact has not published a nationwide estimate using data more recent than 2005—and has no intention of updating its estimates until 2017. In short, bycatch harms ocean wildlife, wastes important food resources and undercuts the economic success of our nation’s fisheries.” Oceana.org
More on Bycatch
- Bycatch Catastrophe: The Amount of Fish the U.S. Wastes Will Make Your Head Spin. Oceana’s new Wasted Catch report exposes nine of the dirtiest fisheries in the U.S., highlighting how in combination they throw away nearly half of what they catch.
- Wasted Catch: Unsolved Problems in U.S. Fisheries
- Excellent graphics in this video by Ocean2012: Ending Overfishing
- “Overfishing is reducing the populations of hundreds of species and aquatic systems are overstressed and in imminent danger of collapse. The collapse of all marine fish stocks is expected by mid-century – 2048. Oceans cover more than 70 percent of the earth’s surface and are one of the most threatened super-ecosystems, yet only about one percent of the world’s oceans are protected…Overfishing is one of the greatest threats to our oceans.”
- General Situation of World Fish Stocks (FAO)
- Daniel Pauly: The ocean’s shifting baseline TEDtalks. and Dr. Pauly on overfishing.
1. Be informed
Read up a bit on the issues of overfishing, have a look at some articles on this site, see if you can find some information regarding your local situation. Keep in mind that while this is a global problem every local situation is different.
2. Know what you eat
If you eat fish make sure you know what you eat, and pick the ones with the lowest impact. Have a look at the Guide to Good Fish Guides for some tips. GREAT LINK TO MANY SUSTAINABLE FISH GUIDES FROM GLOBAL NGO’s http://overfishing.org/pages/guide_to_good_fish.php
Spread the word – Let your voice be heard!
3. Other tips for fish eaters:
- Only eat sustainable seafood. Check out the seafood guides in the resources section, and find out what seafood you eat is good for you and the planet, and what isn’t.
- Avoid big fish, which have been overfished for years, like marlin, tuna and shark.
- Eat small fish – 90% of the big fish are gone, they’re important for the ecosystems, and they’re also very often full of toxic contaminants like lead.
- Buy local. Seafood caught in local North American waters are generally subject to more scrutiny and better regulation than in other parts of the world, plus there is less energy used to store and transport the food. This is especially true for shrimp.
- Go wild, not farmed. Fish farmed in big nets in the ocean pour tons of waste onto the seafood floor, spread disease to wild stocks, and create conflict with local seals, whales, and sharks that are killed when they try to break the nets to eat the fish. It is also an incredibly inefficient way to make food – requiring 6 pounds of wild caught animals to create 1 pound of salmon. This is the biggest problem with eating any kind of Atlantic salmon, which is always farmed in open systems.
- Ask your restaurant if the fish is sustainable, and what seafood they have on their menu that is sustainable. If they have none, choose another option. Just asking them will make them look into sustainable seafood. Your desire creates the economy.
- “General situation of world fish stocks”. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization http://www.fao.org/newsroom/common/ecg/1000505/en/stocks.pdf
- Review of the state of world marine fishery resources (FAO) http://www.fao.org/docrep/015/i2389e/i2389e.pdf
- Why 500 Million U.S. Seafood Meals Get Dumped In The Sea https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/03/21/292094853/why-500-million-u-s-seafood-meals-get-dumped-in-the-sea
- Science study predicts collapse of all seafood fisheries by 2050 https://news.stanford.edu/news/2006/november8/ocean-110806.html
- Wasted Catch: Unsolved Problems in U.S. Fisheries – http://oceana.org/reports/wasted-catch-unsolved-problems-us-fisheries
- Bycatch: the forgotten part of the wasted food story https://foodinstitute.gwu.edu/2017/03/03/bycatch-the-forgotten-part-of-the-wasted-food-story/
- Food loss or food waste? Anything but the same, says FAO expert http://www.fao.org/europe/news/detail-news/en/c/277058/
- Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/wasted-food-IP.pdf
- Food Loss and Waste in North America http://www3.cec.org/islandora/en/item/11772-characterization-and-management-food-loss-and-waste-in-north-america-en.pdf
More Resources from ZEROWASTECHURCH.ORG
- Food waste is the world’s dumbest problem (video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RlxySFrkIM
- What you need to know about food waste and climate change: https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/longform/what-you-need-know-about-food-waste-and-climate-change
- Food Waste/NRDC: https://www.nrdc.org/issues/food-waste
Food Loss and Food Waste
Quote of the Day:
“We don’t get to decide whether we can make a difference or not. We get to decide only if the difference we inevitably make is negative or positive. That’s it. Those are our only two choices. There are no neutral actions.” -Colleen Patrick Goudreau
The full Food Loss/Waste series:
- DAY 15: AVOID FISH OR REDUCE/CHOOSE CAREFULLY
- DAY 16: MAKE AN AUDIT OF YOUR OWN FOOD WASTE
- DAY 17: HELP WITH FOOD RESCUE IN YOUR COMMUNITY!
- DAY 18: FARM TO GROCERY STORE – LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!
- DAY 19: TREAT YOURSELF TO A HOUSEHOLD HABITS MAKEOVER!
- DAY 20: FINAL IN THE SERIES – EAT FOOD. NOT TOO MUCH. MOSTLY PLANTS.