North Routt 5th and 6th grade students: Stop overfishing |

North Routt 5th and 6th grade students: Stop overfishing

Dear Editor,

We are students at North Routt Community Charter School, and we are concerned about the problem that could potentially destroy the oceans — overfishing.

The good news is that areas with competent fisheries management and Coast Guard policing, mainly in the developed world, have experienced some dramatic recoveries of fish population. The bad news is that most overfishing takes place in poor countries where there is no adequate regulation or policing.

A disturbing fact that is mostly unknown to consumers is that four pounds of fish are discarded for every one pound brought to market. Most people favor a certain fish, albeit cod, salmon whatever. What most people don’t realize is the more they like it, the less and less there is going to be in the future if unsustainably caught.

Therefore, most likely the fish that remain are going to be the ones that most people don’t care for.

Marked as Chilean sea bass, Patagonian and Antarctic toothfish are slowly growing and inherently prone to overfishing. The premium price also spurred rampant illegal fishing, which has fortunately declined with an increasing percentage of legal operators.

Chilean sea bass from Chile, which is still plagued by management and by-catch problems, accounts for approximately 20 percent of the U.S. imports, should be avoided. Chilean sea bass from the Ross Sea, South Georgia and Kerguelen make up more than 40 percent of the fishery and qualify as a sustainable fishery.

The long lines commonly used to catch Chilean sea bass can incidentally snag and drown seabirds, though the fishing industry has made major strides in reducing by-catch in recent years. This is only one of numerous case studies about fish that are endangered or possibly aren’t even known to exist because they are fished unsustainably.

How does one find and buy from reliable sustainable fishing companies? Exactly for that reason there is the Marine Stewardship Council, or MSC, label. If a fishery is deemed sustainable, it becomes certified. It can use the blue MSC ecolabel on its seafood products. Consumers can also download an app called Seafood Watch, which can help them know what fish to avoid and to buy.

If you do have certain questions and you want to ask the people who sell you the fish, they may not have the answers you are looking for or any answers at all. But the more you ask them, the more they will want or need to find the answers.

More and more fish markets are making it their business to supply information about their fish to their customers because it is good business.

All successful social movements are the product of long-term, patient planning. They succeed because a few outrageous and determined people organize a movement with enough structure to take action. Every member counts. The more people, the more force of the organization. Every choice matters, remember that.

North Routt Community Charter School fifth- and sixth-grade students


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