Even if the world was rid of every piece of plastic overnight, marine life would still be in grave danger
As the anti-plastics revolution continues to gather momentum, hopefully it won’t be long until the ocean’s number one enemy is also held to account. Make no mistake, plastic is devastating – but the biggest killer, by far, is the fishing industry.
It has been amazing to see the near-global change in mindset towards plastic and its destructive impact upon our environment, particularly our oceans. If you’ve been anywhere near social media for the last few months, you will have no doubt seen tragic clips from Planet Earth II, conversations that use the hashtag #skipthestraw, and news of how giant corporations like Starbucks and McDonald’s are bowing to public pressure and phasing out unnecessary plastic packaging.
And yet, plastic is not the biggest killer. Even if the world was rid of every piece of plastic overnight, marine life would still be in grave danger.
The Truth About Fishing
Owing to the fishing industry’s staggering rate of destruction, not only do 80% of the world’s fish stocks face depletion, but scientists have predicted that “all of the world’s fisheries will have collapsed by the year 2048”. That means if no changes are made, we could see fishless oceans within just 30 years.
No species is safe, either: the industry term “bycatch” refers to fish that are caught “incidentally” – those that become tangled up in nets as wide as football pitches, which are dragged along the ocean floor to catch anyone and everything in one fell swoop. Cutting out plastic may help prevent dolphins, sharks and whales from swallowing piles of rubbish; the bycatch, however, will continue to swallow these species whole. It’s estimated that 50 million sharks are caught unintentionally every year.
Not only is fishing itself literally responsible for gutting the world’s oceans of its array of species and coral, the type of gear used by the fishing industry – fishing nets, lines, ropes etc – is estimated to be a bigger pollutant than plastic itself. Fishing nets alone make up 46% of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. You could say the fishing industry is emptying our oceans of animals, and replacing them with rubbish…
Change Can Happen
Don’t be deflated – saying “no” to straws and other unnecessary plastics is just as easy as choosing fish alternatives. Vegan fish (naturally!) doesn’t require fishing, so it avoids bycatching dolphins, sharks and turtles, avoids depleting the ocean of its over 200,000+ known species, and avoids polluting the ocean with fishing nets and other fishing gear.
It’s clear that saving our oceans isn’t about solving just one single issue (but cutting down on our plastic usage is a brilliant start) and eating vegan fish alternatives is the logical – and much-needed – next step.
Greene King, a company that runs nearly 150 pubs nationwide in the UK, recently added vegan fish to its menus, claiming to have “the UK’s first truly sustainable ‘fish’ ”. So next time you order your favourite drink from the bar and say #nostrawplease, try ordering the vegan fish, too. By making these type of positive choices, you can help us make sure that once the oceans are one day finally free of plastic, that there will be plenty of fish and ocean life still around to enjoy them.
Want to give it a try? Check out this tasty beer-battered vegan fish and chips recipe here.