Fish without fish

Jens Köster


Finally, politics in the USA is turning in the right direction. Environmental protection and measures against climate change are being discussed at the highest level. Investors on Wall Street are discovering the benefits of sustainable funds and a lot of money is flowing in that direction. Bill Gates is writing his book "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need" and is the largest private owner of farmland in the United States.


The wisdom and tips on how we can better protect the climate are pouring out in blogs, newspapers, and magazines, and every talk show talks about it long and hard. The gap between talking and doing remains wide, and the sneering comments about kids demonstrating on Friday instead of going to school still don't go away.


A quick word on the wonderful reduction of cognitive dissonance. We already do enough in Germany, and we're always being talked into a guilty conscience, a friend says to me over dinner. Relaxed sitting outside, on the North Sea last summer. Ironically, the sea roars in the background, which is becoming increasingly acidic and warmer due to the climate crisis, which has a massive impact on the animals and plants that live in the sea. In the much-discussed documentary Seaspiracy by Kip Andersen and documentary filmmaker Ali Tabrizi, it is finally and very drastically shown how commercial fishing, through daily, brutal overfishing, is massively driving species extinction and environmental destruction. And in addition, millions of tons of marine life per year, due to environmentally hazardous fishing methods, "unintentionally" end up in the nets of these fishermen, as so-called bycatch. Whales, dolphins and porpoises drown unintentionally in fishing nets every year.


Tens of thousands of sharks, seabirds and sea turtles are needlessly killed


According to the environmental organization WWF, a large part of the plastic waste in the sea comes from fishing and consists of fishing gear such as nets and ropes. The so-called ghost nets are particularly dangerous. They hardly or only very slowly decompose into microplastics, and thus also pose a deadly danger to fish, marine mammals, turtles and birds that get caught in them. Around the globe, a third of all longlines and fishing lines are lost every year, according to WWF data.


If there is no change in the current trends in the eating habits of the world's population, there will be an even greater demand in the coming years, especially for meat and dairy products as sources of protein. Due to the projected population growth in Africa and Asia, the future high demand for protein will play a very important role in world nutrition. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that global demand for animal products will increase by up to 70% by 2050. Raising animals as a source of protein for humans consumes vast amounts of land, water and other resources. A future global diet dominated by meat as a protein source is detrimental to the Earth's entire ecosystem.


The global, seemingly insatiable, hunger for animal proteins is significantly worsening the entire ecological balance in which we live today through the cultivation of monocultures, which are needed solely for feed production due to factory farming. The natural habitats of animals are destroyed, the food basis of these wild animals at the same time. And we note with great astonishment why these animals, which actually live in the wild, are looking for more and more habitats directly in our neighborhood.


Due to a decoupling between man and nature, societies have emerged worldwide that see only strong economic growth as the maximum goal of a society. This decoupling has been accompanied by an alienation between humans and nature, and humans and animals. This is why it is so easy for people to perceive nature as something that is worth less to them than, for example, a consumer good.


With this devaluation, it is also easier to destroy natural habitats, such as the clearing of the huge areas in the rainforest, because everything is subordinated to the dogma of marketing products. Marketing at any price, food as cheap and as fast as possible. Real knowledge, reading up in books and really listening to the other, as little as possible. Everything must run at top speed. 


Plant based seafood on the rise


A recent market report published in the wake of Seaspiracy finds that the global market for plant-based seafood will grow at an impressive CAGR of about 28% from 2021 to 2031, reaching a value of US$1.3 billion by 2031. Interestingly, the report notes that vegetable shrimp will be the most consumed variety in the coming years. Currently, fish burger patties dominate the market, according to the report, with fillets expected to catch up soon. Soy is the predominant source, followed by wheat protein, whose share will continue to rise.


With the effects of digitalization, globalization and the all-defining issue of climate change, it is up to the actions of each individual to decide what our common future will look like. To feed oneself is a very personal, absolutely subjective, issue. So each individual can decide whether he or she wants to continue as before, with all the consequences, or whether a change in the daily diet is possible.


Of course, as with meat alternatives, the question remains whether an imitative product in the form of a vegetarian burger or vegetarian shrimp is a way to use these foods as effective remedies for climate change or to completely avoid fish and meat in the daily diet. Then, however, this must be discussed with all consequences for e.g. the farmers and fishing enterprises and the appropriate suppliers, as for example from the feed sector.


Education and training with valid learning content on daily nutrition, that protects our planet, from kindergarten to schools to universities, are key to a nutrition that can slow down climate change. If we educate children about our planet's environmental issues in a way that engages them from a young age, we may have a chance to implement meaningful activities against climate change in everyday life.

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