As Mark Powell (of the Ocean Conservancy) pointed out in the comments of the last post, Roger Rufe of the Ocean Conservancy said that we need to “use ocean wilderness to lead a new way of thinking about and seeing our oceans through a positive conservation lens, rather than an extractive one.” And also that “we must shift our focus from the oceans as fish warehouses and dumpsites and focus on them as natural ocean communities to be cherished and protected.”
But this campaign disappeared and, according to Mark Powell, it was because people weren’t ready for it. He rightly believes we have a lot of work to do before we can persuade people to think of fish as wildlife. But I would argue that is not going to change with the current spectrum of voices, which all relate to fish as commodities.
We need high profile groups out there pushing for people to stop eating fish altogether, not because that is what will happen or because it’s even the best solution. We need it because those voices will widen the spectrum of options and people will be more willing to accept the requests of the other voices (to moderate seafood intake or avoid only certain species, for instance).
I turn to some research presented in Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness:
When charities ask you for a donation, they typically offer you a range of options such as $100, $250, $1,000, $5,000, or ‘other’. If the charity’s fund-raisers have an idea of what they are doing, these values are not picked at random, because the options influence the amount of money people decide to donate. People will give more if the options are $100, $250, $1,000, and $5,000 than if the options are $50, $75, $100, and $150. In many domains, the evidence shows that, within reason, the more you ask for, the more you tend to get.
As the late and great environmentalist David Brower, former executive director of the Sierra Club, once remarked: he needed the Paul Watsons and Sea Shepherds of the world to make his requests seem reasonable.