Seafood is a popular American staple, celebrated for its superior health benefits and flavor. Americans love seafood, and many feel that would be unable to live without it. My question is, how many Americans actually know the effects of their nautical diets?

Developed nations began industrial fishing in the 1950s. Since then, populations of all fishes consumed by humans have dropped roughly 90%. This does not take into account the destruction of ocean floor ecosystems, caused by trolling nets dragged across the ocean’s bottom.

What is our role in all of this, as consumers and global citizens? How could we possibly be implicated in the coming extinction of almost all fish eaten for cuisine? The answer resides in consumer power, community ignorance, and years of tradition. From ancient times, people have relied on fish to feed entire empires, and it’s now a favored global staple. It is natural for us to eat fish; it is unnatural to glut ourselves to the point of their extinction.

Fish are deeply interwoven into their ecosystem’s food web, an intricate system in which all organisms are connected to each other via the food chain. If the ocean’s fish disappear, it will have dramatic consequences. This can already been seen in an increase of algae blooms and lamprey populations in the Chesapeake.

It is important that we, as consumers, take back our oceans. Commercial fisheries have seen fit to deplete them and all the beautiful mysteries within. Farmed fish are designed to trick us, fed on wild anchovies. As consumers, we should not allow this. The ocean is a fount of endless potential and information, important to our long human heritage. Think with your heart and your dollar! Next time you go out, avoid the fish.