13 Mar 2019 - Chef Andrew Zimmern: This year, World Wildlife Day is raising the alarm on marine biodiversity loss. That’s a BIG problem, and I know many of you are thinking someone else will fix this, or saying to yourself “this isn’t real,” or even worse, “I know it’s happening, but I can’t possibly make a difference.” You CAN! And I will get to that shortly.
Life below water has sustained human civilization for, well, forever. Today our oceans provide food, nourishment, and livelihoods for over three billion people. They absorb 30 percent of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere and fully 90 percent of the heat from climate change. Most importantly, oceans produce 50 percent of the oxygen on our planet — in other words, for every second breath we take.
Our planet’s oceans and its species face growing threats, including climate change, marine pollution, habitat destruction, and unsustainable fishing.
These threats, these human activities, have a direct impact on the lives and livelihoods of women and men living in poverty, on local communities, cultural societies, and on our massive global economies which depend on the marine ecosystem. I have spent my career seeing it in the very places where the water meets the land. And where fisheries fail, oceans fail. Supporting healthy fisheries and eating sustainable seafood is an easy way to help keep our global economies and oceans healthier.
I have seen the reductions in species and the impact on what were some of the most productive sustainable fisheries from Newfoundland’s cod fishery to Senegal’s tribal hand netting of local reef fish. I hear the same story everywhere I go, from Mr. Cox the conch diver in Tobago to Jamma the Sakalava spear fisherman in Madagascar. A decade ago these fisheries were productive and hundreds of local families were supported, on the table and in their local economies. Now they aren’t. In Marzamemi, in Southern Sicily, where there were once dozens of local fisheries and canneries, there is now only one. An entire industry wiped out in a generation. And why?