Life Below Water

Humans like to achieve economic growth and the highest standard of living possible. And now we’ve pressed Earth’s biological systems beyond their safe limits. Aware of a dangerous conflict, the United Nations set forth 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As a consultant (I contributed a chapter called “Nonhuman Rights and Human Sustainability”) for the Encyclopedia of UN Sustainability Goals, it occurred to me that all 17 Goals should be realigned to be compatible with, and informed by, the vegan ethic.

As you see here, the public conversation about Goal 14 – Life Below Water is mainly about how we should “support small fishers” and buy “sustainable seafood” to “conserve and sustainably use” the waters.

Life Below Water. This is the 14th focus of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

A vegan humanity would stop talking about so-called sustainable seafood and simply get out of the water. Maybe we’d still harvest algae, but we’d put a halt to most of the looting and pillaging of the rivers, lakes, and seas.

Where do we start on the political scale? BAN SUBSIDIES.

The global fish catch has rapidly expanded in recent decades, supported by technology, commercial demand, and government subsidies. The fleets of Spain, South Korea and Japan can take catches throughout the Atlantic and tropical waters because the industry is so heavily subsidized. The Chinese bottom-trawling fleets would lack any viable existence without massive subsidies.

Sea turtles are trapped by the hundreds of thousands per year in shrimp nets, gill nets, and by longline hooks.  Photo credit: Jeremy Bishop, via Unsplash.

Where do we start on a community advocacy level? Asking people to commit to STOP EATING SEA ANIMALS.

This straightforward message should replace so-called sustainable seafood campaigns that so many nonprofit and for-profit groups push. From sea turtles to penguins, many non-target animals would be spared if humans would just…

Stop thinking of sea animals as food.

We also need to address the farming of sea animals, which is becoming a massive industry.

U.S. residents eat 100 billion+ fish and shellfish yearly.

  • Opt out, and people can individually spare more than 225 fishes each year — so many, because fish farming uses large number of sea animals as feed. 
  • Opt out, and we can individually spare more than 150 shrimp and other shellfish each year.

Fish farming is

the fastest growing

sector of agribusiness for the past 40 years.

Let’s turn this around.

As always, your input is welcome. This post is intended to offer blog readers a window into the ongoing Patreon studio project Veganizing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

2 thoughts on “Life Below Water

  1. I agree with this essay; fishing is not “sustainable” in fact it is the cause of most animals killed for food in the world. Fishing is a dirty business; long liners capture not only the targeted fish but every other type of sea creature in its’ wake which they discard as “trash”, including dolphins.
    There’s an opportunity to comment on new Federal Regulations for deterring sea mammals from fishing boats & their “catch”, but only until midnight today. It’s very easy & you can remain anonymous. It’s abhorrent that fishermen use explosives or noise-deafening devices to keep whales & other sea mammals away from their fishing boats.

  2. Thank you, Lee! Shared on the Fish Feel Facebook page (tried tagging you on it but Fb wouldn’t allow it). Yes, the sensible way to conserve aquatic populations is by not gratuitously exploiting them. Our concern shouldn’t solely be for populations but also for the individual sentient beings, in addition to their ecosystems. There are marvelous vegan versions of virtually every type of seafood imaginable: and they’re better for us, too:

    In addition to opposing harmful subsidies, there is an opportunity right now to counter fish farming in federal waters. The first such facility has been proposed, and could set a precedent for many more such cruel facilities. Activists have pressured the government into taking comments on it, and the deadline to do so has been extended to November 19th. Here’s a previous post about it: I hope readers will submit a comment opposing the project, and urge others to do the same. Fishes, and other aquatic animals, desperately need all of the help we can give them! Thank you for advocating for them, and for all animals.

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