Sunday, March 30, 2014

Help our Oceans

a photo exhibit (in Gbelt Makati) reveals both
the beauty, and the bad state of our oceans.
  Being a diver and former host of a conservation show (GMA7’s Born to be Wild), I can’t help but be continually awed by the beauty of this Ocean Planet, and at the same time - be bothered by its ailments. Inspired by yet another ‘call to action’ photo exhibit at Greenbelt 5, here’s the hinted tips about ‘what should we do’ (with the obvious premise that –our oceans and all of us are severely threatened);

1. In general, we need to lower “over-consumption” of ocean products. A good mix of food especially plant-based will help ease off the pressure on our oceans. Collectively, we can help reduce demand.

2. Easy on high-impact products like the carnivores (Salmon, seabass, etc.). To produce 1 kg of these carnivores, they need to be fattened (in cages/farms) by 4-5kgs of wild catch (or by catch) fishes. One meal of such fish is like consuming for 4-5 people. Although salmon is a good source of good fats and omega, consider alternating with a good plant-based source (ex. olive oil). Sharks are also ‘high impact’ (being an apex predator / regulator of mid-predators) and clears oceans of carcasses. Enough with the sharks’ fin soup!

3. Excessive pollutants in our water system. From the million boats, to garbage we dump into the sea -and it's killing our oceans. What we can control – aspire for zero-waste or at least very little waste at home, that’s our start. It’s almost easy, if we have the will.

4. Favour traditional fishermen as source of catch. Commercial fish industry had gone so ‘abusive’ that fish stock experienced a steep decline. If you've been to Navotas and witness the million tons of fish deposited there daily, you will not wonder. But how do we know which were sourced sustainably? Difficult to do in the big city, but once-in-an-out-of-town while, visit the small-town market and buy there instead.

5. “Farmed” doesn’t mean good. Even farmed freshwater fishes (carps, tilapia) are fed with pellets which are mixed with fish by-catch, hence non-organic primarily because those herbivores where somewhat fattened by fish proteins. I read that pigs are the biggest consumer of fish – the millions of pigs around the world are fed with protein-rich pellets which are fish-based. Alternative meat products or plant-based protein products are everywhere, not to mention healthier.

6. Shrimp 'fishing' had become high impact. It yields the highest unwanted by-catch which were thrown back to the sea (i.e. dead fishes,etc. gone to waste). Further, bad shrimp farming entails mangrove forest clearing (destruction), a practise common around Asia. And the destroyed mangrove site, once used – will be left un-usable after a couple of season of farming (due to its toxic state). I used to eat shrimp a lot – but now very occasional or what I call ‘incidental’.  It's a scavenger creature, so some diet philosophy also classify shrimps as unclean and not good for health.

A slow change in how or what we eat;  thought sharing with friends and family;  educating the community around us, among many other easy things to do -- done collectively can HELP SAVE our oceans.

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