How to Save the Oceans: Eat Sardines

Overfishing has led to wildly unbalanced ecosystem
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2011 3:48 PM CST
How to Save the Oceans: Eat Sardines
Sardine fish, caught by Sri Lankan fishermen, are gathered for distribution at the end of a fishing session, in Koggala area, south of Galle, Sri Lanka, Thursday, July 9, 2009.   (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan)

Want to help restore the ocean’s severely unbalanced ecoysystem? Develop a taste for anchovies and sardines. A new study shows that a worldwide appetite for smaller, “grazing” fish would do wonders to restore balance after years of overfishing the more popular, and larger, varieties. Humans tend to like tuna, cod, and other predatory fish from the top of the food chain, the Independent reports. But after years of eating those varieties, their numbers are in a catastrophic decline, having fallen by two-thirds over the past century.

Meanwhile, smaller fish that forage and feed on plankton have seen their numbers double over the same period, since there are fewer fish feeding on them. The obvious answer is to convince fish-eaters that anchovies, sardines, and the like are nutritious and, well, yummy. Currently, most smaller fish are turned into industrial products once caught (think fishmeal, fish oil, fertilizer, and feeds). If this trend continues, the ocean will basically become a farm, one professor says: "Society must decide what we want with the ocean. Do we want to turn it into a farm, or have a more natural ecosystem?” (Read more ecosystem stories.)

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