Fighting with Fish – A few of my personal thoughts on Fishing and Conservation!

Photo by evilthomthai via Flickr Creative Commons

Okay, I guess before I start with this post I should put my hands up and admit that I have never knowingly eaten a fish and never plan to. This is choice I have continued with after being brought up as a vegetarian! This isn’t up for discussion, this is my choice just as eating fish maybe or may not be your choice! Even as a vegetarian I am interested in the issues that surround the fishing industry.

I have forced myself to watch ‘Hugh’s Fish Fight‘ on Channel 4, because I think that what Hugh is trying to achieve is something positive that will benefit people, fish and in essence the health of our planet. Having seen the dramatic trailers for this series where Hugh says something like ‘This is the food on our table…..this is the future of our children’ I have to say I was not expecting this series to be too good! Lets be realistic, many of us can live healthy lives without ever having to eat a fish….(I know I can and so can my children)!

However once you get past the dramatic advertising, the content is pretty impressive. Even though I know that man can survive without having to eat a fish, I do have some positive and sympathetic opinions about the fishing industry. The fishing industry is a large industry and one that is almost certainly a vital part of the global economy. I know that the best way to conserve fish stocks is to stop fishing, yet I also know that there are individuals who rely on the fishing industry to be able to feed their family. This should be a dilemma for a vegetarian like me!

Photo by evilthomthai via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by evilthomthai via Flickr Creative Commons

We are in a situation where people do rely on the fishing industry as a livelihood and as a food source. There are populations of people that live in areas of the world that have to rely on fish to survive. This is a reality check. It is easy for me to abstain from eating fish, meat etc as I have alternatives and I have easy choices. However those people that are living in more remote corners of the world do not necessarily have those same choices.

So the big question is ‘can a fisherman be a conservationist’? Well the answer is yes; it is not in a fisherman’s long term interest to overfish! After all the fisherman relies on fish for his or her livelihood! It seems that around the world there is a growing push towards sensitive fishing. The need to conserve fish populations is now broadly recognised and I do honestly believe that the fishing industry is as much part of the solution as they may be perceived as the problem. The fishing industry will continue and it will do this alongside intelligent conservation methods. The fisherman’s catch is a first indicator on the state of the oceans.

I am sure I may be a bit outspoken here, but I do strongly believe that the conservation of our oceans can only exists at present alongside the existence of a fishing industry. Conversely of course, I also believe that the fishing industry can only survive alongside savvy conservation methods!

So who would have though it…..a lifelong vegetarian putting his hands up in support of the fishing industry ;-)


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About the author

I'm a birder and twitcher with a general interest in natural history (dragonflies, butterflies and orchids in particular) but most of all I am a passionate conservationist with a particular affiliation to Turkey. Having worked as a Ranger/Naturalist at a range of nature reserves throught the UK I now work as a freelance ecologist and writer.

One Comment

  1. John Thatcher says:

    I eat fish about four times a year; I used to eat tuna (but no longer because it is seriously overfished). I like what we Londoners used to call Rock Eel (alternatively Rock Salmon, Huss, smoothound, dogfish, or spurdog) which is not commonly available except by special order. I choose, generally, not to eat fish. There are human societies around the globe that are dependent upon fish. Mostly, in western civilisation, we aren’t – we have the luxury of choice. We cannot curb our breeding habits so we should put a brake on our fish-eating because, as a population, we are eating too many fish. We are eating them more quickly than they can breed, Furthermore, in our efforts to catch as many as we can of the diminishing numbers, we are becoming more destructive in our methods (causing real damage to the marine environment which, in turn, inhibits the chance of fish species recovering) and less selective about what we catch. But, for me, the worst consequence of what we do with fish is that we compete with other species which have evolved to eat only fish. We have a choice and they do not, We are taking their food resource, having already used up more than our share. We are endangering pretty much every living part of the marine environment so that we can indulge culinary whims. The Fish Fight makes Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall about the only media food guru that I will pay attention too – all of the others (in my opinion), particularly those few who are known for promoting fish eating, are very dangerous parasites – more deadly than the fishermen who scour the ocean floors.

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