If there are no fish in the ocean

  We don’t care much about fish. Maybe it’s because they’re cold and sticky. Or because they live in the sea so far from us that we can’t see them. Or it’s because they’re just too “alternative”. But it’s clear that we don’t care about them because we’re putting them on the road to extinction, which would cause riots if it happened on land on a scale.
  Take cod as an example. Newfoundland’s cod was once so plentiful that it could be scooped up in a basket, but in the 1990s the fishery on Newfoundland’s vast coast collapsed. Cod has been so plundered that it may never return to its former numbers. The same is happening in the North Sea, according to the UK’s Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. The committee this month recommended that a third of the UK’s waters should be closed to fishing to replenish fisheries.
  But people brushed off the advice. Fish seems to be a natural catch for people. They are the last wild animal most people eat. In the turbulent, treacherous seas, fish are (or were at one time) the prey of intrepid fighters. But the fantastic technology possessed by modern fishing fleets means that fishing can hardly be described as “hunting” anymore. Fish have ceased to be hunted and become a simple commodity.
  Trawlers use sonar and radar to detect schools of fish, even small schools in the distance, and then use high-tech nets to scoop up large numbers of fish.
  To address these issues, we have started experimenting with fish farming with some success. Factory farming techniques have made life miserable for many animals on land, and the trend is now spreading to the ocean. Farms are accused of polluting the sea with chemicals, breeding diseases that spread to wild fish and deteriorating their genetic makeup.
  But if we don’t care about the fish, maybe we should let the trawler catch the fish out of the sea. But does it matter? In addition to depleting fishing fleets around the world and destroying coastal economies, the extermination of fish, if unchecked, could have disastrous consequences elsewhere. Scientists have recently discovered the health benefits of fish oil, which can help prevent heart disease and benefit the brain. We will also miss opportunities to make further discoveries in fish, such as the discovery of natural, tissue-free antifreeze in teleosts.
  Then there is the issue of global warming. We know that the ocean plays a major role in climate regulation, but we don’t know the interactions between complex components of this system, such as marine plankton. Plankton could either absorb carbon from the atmosphere, thereby lowering the planet’s temperature, or keep the carbon close to the water’s surface, thereby warming the planet.
  There are not many fish in the sea anymore. If we really care about fish, we should prove it with action.