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Critically Speaking

Apr 14, 2021

Most of us take for granted that the seafood we eat is healthy and better for the atmosphere.  But there are hidden costs in our increasing consumption of seafood that we don’t see.  Why?  Because these costs are accrued on the high seas and under the sea, where few journalists endeavor to cover them.  Sea slavery, overfishing, pollution, and loss of revenue for people already struggling to make a living are extensive, but not well known.  Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times investigative reporter Ian Urbina has seen these horrors firsthand and talks with us today about his book “The Outlaw Ocean” and his foundation of the same name.



 Key Takeaways:

  •  Approximately 50 of our seafood is farmed, and the other 50 percent arrives to consumers via practices involving human abuse and serious environmental damage. 
  • Much of the farmed fish eat fish-meal that is derived from massive overfishing of fish less desirable for eating (but nonetheless ecologically important) and other species, such as whales, sharks, turtles) caught up in the fishing process.  Cooked, ground up, and used to feed the farmed fish.  
  • We tend to think about greenhouse gases as being the driver of global change, but these practices are wreaking severe havoc on the planet, underwater.
  • Human abuse and slavery are often involved in the fleets that harvest from the sea.  Invisible people, disposable people.
  • Because all of the above take place out of sight, the damage usually goes unseen for lack of journalistic coverage.  It’s expensive to document but critical that it’s brought to light.


"There is a dark irony to aquaculture and raising fish on land and in pens. It was meant, and supported for many years by environmentalists, as a way to slow the rate of depletion of the wild fish. Now, because those aquaculture fish are being fed pelletized wild-caught fish, it's actually speeding up the rate of ocean depletion." —  Ian Urbina


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Twitter: @CritiSpeak




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