Saving marine and fish resources takes center stage on World Fisheries Day
November 21, 2023 — Today marks World Fisheries Day, created to reflect the global dependence on seafood and humanity’s dependence on healthy oceans. Experts believe that understanding humanity’s relationship to the current marine situation is essential, noting that the world has moved far away from the pre-industrial era when people believed that ocean resources were inexhaustible.
“The world’s ocean fisheries are expected to be empty by 2048, if not sooner, largely due to overfishing,” says Wikus Engelbrecht, communications director at ProVeg South Africa. Nutrition Insight.
“We are eating more seafood than ever before, and the oceans can only support human populations to a certain extent. Commercial fishing also harms the ocean ecosystem – which serves as a carbon store and a major producer of oxygen – and threatens rare and endangered species that are often They are discarded as bycatch caught in nets with target populations.
According to the organization, unless humans change course, they are entering the last generation of major fishing practices and championing a plant-based dietary lifestyle, including their seafood counterparts.
Nutritional myths about fish
Fish is the most widely consumed source of protein in many regions of the world, especially in Asia. The demand for fish has increased dramatically due to population growth, while resources are declining and are intricately linked to environmental degradation.
According to a UN study, more than two-thirds of the world’s fisheries are overfished or completely fished, and more than a third are in decline due to loss of fish habitat, pollution, chemical contamination, waste, and global warming. .
ProVeg advocates for plant-based fish alternatives, and challenges common beliefs that fish is a great source of anti-inflammatory polyunsaturated omega-3 fats, which are beneficial for cardiovascular and cognitive health.
The nutritional myth that fish is a healthier protein source than meat has also been disputed and has been described as a “major food source of dangerous contaminants,” suggesting mercury contamination in many fish sources. For example, a study by the Biodiversity Research Institute in Maine found that 84% of global fish contained unsafe levels of mercury.
“Given that the nutrients provided by eating fish can be obtained from other food sources, it may be time to ask whether fish should be considered a healthy food source at all,” Engelbrecht explains.
“High levels of fat, cholesterol and lack of fiber make fish a poor food choice. Getting omega-3 from algae or seaweed may be a healthy choice, as can eating chia seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts, among other plant-based examples.”
Another example cited was the controversy in Japan between the 1930s and 1960s, where large numbers of people developed Minamata disease, a form of mercury poisoning that causes severe damage to the nervous system. The accident represents a historic case of industrial pollutants released into the oceans due to poor regulation and monitoring.
ProVeg advocates that algae and seaweed are good alternative sources of omega-3, along with chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, and supplements.
World Fisheries Day, celebrated globally on 21 November every year, highlights the critical importance of marine life conservation. Scientists around the world have raised the alarm about the rate at which the fish are currently being caught and are unlikely to replenish themselves.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization calculates that 90% of the world’s fish population is fully fished, overfished, or in crisis, with these stocks in sharp decline and already exploited to their fullest extent.
Protected species, such as turtles, dolphins and sharks, which are unnecessarily caught as “bycatch” when tuna or sardines are trawled, are a critical consideration, along with those species that are on the verge of extinction due to commercial fishing.
About 96 million metric tons of marine life are recovered from the ocean annually, and global demand is on the rise. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, per capita fish consumption was about 20 kilograms in 2017. The main reasons for the increase in fish consumption are technological developments, rising income and a cost-effective source of protein.
“In the South African context, there has been another controversy over the past decade as coastal fishing towns have lost their ancestral lands due to licenses granted to large commercial fishing companies that now completely dominate those waters,” says Engelbrecht.
ProVeg recommends exploring traditional African plant-based recipes through The Green Dietitian, for example, where complex recipes are detailed and codified using local ingredients.
“Meat alternatives in Africa have been around for centuries and are not a new or Western idea. They are a long-established fact, not a futuristic hypothetical. Since these alternatives exist largely as oral traditions, they are typically not well known in the mainstream.”
Support plant-based fish alternatives
To promote vegan lifestyles, ProVeg facilitates a range of vegan events throughout the year, such as VeggieWorld and VegMed, and one-off events, such as CEVA training and numerous seminars.
In addition, the ProVeg Incubator supports innovative companies in the plant-based space by mentoring early-stage startups, consulting for major global supermarket brands and managing the V-Label, which ensures a product is vegan or vegetarian.
“Traditional small-scale fishing as a primary livelihood has always been more sustainable than modern methods, and its role in sustaining rural populations has been historically noteworthy. While the oceans are being hollowed out, fish populations in rivers and lakes may persist, unless they ensure the additional global impact of pollutants.” chemicals and other pollutants,” Engelbrecht points out.
“The clock is ticking, and we’re just calling attention to it. Whole food plant sources are cheap and easily grown. Subsistence farming is no stranger to poor areas, and in fact, they tend to grow many plant varieties that you’re unlikely to find in retail.” Commercial.
On the other hand, a study by the University of California shows that many of the world’s largest aquatic food producers are vulnerable to human-induced environmental change, with some of the most at-risk countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa showing the lowest capacity to adapt. A separate study revealed that loss of fisheries caused by climate change could significantly reduce the availability of all forms of omega-3.
Written by Inga de Jong
To contact our editorial team, please email us at email@example.com
If you found this article valuable, you may want to receive our newsletter.
Subscribe now to receive the latest news directly in your inbox.
(tags for translation)proveg South Africa