Need a New Year’s resolution? Consider signing this seafood boycott.
It’s that time of year where we welcome changes and commitment to ideals. New gym memberships. Re-committing to flossing every day. Giving up seafood…
My New Year’s resolution was to finally write this blogpost compile a list of people that will boycott seafood (all farmed and wild caught marine and freshwater animals) for 2010 to:
1. demonstrate serious admonition for current fisheries practices (on the whole; we know there are a few localized examples of good management);
2. demonstrate strong support for seafood alternatives to encourage restaurants to make more vegetarian offerings (such as the Cha-Ya vegetarian Japanese restaurant in San Francisco);
3. test the viability of Stickk.com as a tool (more on that to come).
EATING SEAFOOD IS NOT THAT HEALTHY.
EATING SEAFOOD HAS NEGATIVE ECOLOGICAL CONSEQUENCES.
TO EAT SEAFOOD IS TO EAT SOME OF THE PLANET’S LAST REMAINING WILDLIFE.
(Yet, despite this third fact, I was just reading this eye-opening article in Conservation Biology, which discusses the very few CITES listing of marine taxa– in part because fisheries are not considered part of the wildlife trade).
If you would like to sign the boycott, please leave your name in the comments section (feel free to leave an pseudonym if you prefer). Research suggests that if you sign this pledge and perhaps even sign up for a seafood boycott on Stickk.com (which is a web-based business based on the concept of committing oneself to specific actions), you are more likely to stick to your goal (I stick to my seafood boycott on Stickk, but fail to report it).
In the book Nudge, authors Thaler and Sunstein report on a study done on Yale seniors who were encouraged to get tetanus shots.
Most of the students were convinced by the lecture and said they planned to go get the shot, but these good intentions did not lead to much action. Only 3% actually went and got the shot. Other subjects were given the same lecture but were also given a copy of a campus map with the location of the health center circled. They were then asked to look at their weekly schedules, make a plan for when they would go and get the shot and look at the map and decide what route they would take. With these nudges, 28% of the students managed to show up and get their tetanus shot.
Can this blog-based boycott raise the profile and commitment to a seafood abstinence? I hope at the very least it can provide evidence that there is increasing awareness that fisheries are in serious trouble (which calls for serious solutions) and that more and more people see the disjointedness between conservationists and their patterns of consumption — like Giovanni Bearzi, WWF’s Helen Fox and her colleagues, and Stacey, a graduate student who wrote the following:
I am a graduate student in a conservation biology lab, and most of the grad students in our lab are studying fish. I have been vegetarian for nearly 10 years (and I believe ‘real vegetarians don’t eat fish’), but most of the others in my lab are not. As my supervisor is a very strong advocate for the conservation of fishes, I was surprised to learn that not only does he eat fish, but he also eats the very species of fish we are trying to protect in our work; and has served it at lab celebrations. At a recent departmental gathering, party platters of sushi were served, including tai (red snapper). I have voiced my concern to other students, but have often felt marginalized by what others believe are my ‘extreme’ views against fish consumption, and don’t feel I’ve been taken seriously. It just doesn’t make sense to me: how can we expect changes, if we, who understand far more about the fisheries crises than general public, are not willing to make changes ourselves?
If you would like to choose not to eat seafood or already have, sign this pledge and abstain from eating seafood (all farmed and wild caught marine and freshwater animals) for 2010. Report back with any thoughts or progress. I will have more stories on seafood abstinence, including what it was like for a Japanese colleague to give up seafood for two weeks, to come…