We're Taking 100 Million Tons of Sea Creatures From the Ocean & Replacing Them With Plastic: Sylvia Earle


photo: Future Atlas via flickr.
Sylvia Earle, TED Prize winner and National Geographic Explorer in residence, frequently makes her way into TreeHugger posts and with good reason. She's just right on. In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Earle spells out the devastation that humans are inflicting on our oceans in no uncertain terms. Here are the highlights:

[Zinta] Lundborg: You write that you haven't been on a dive in the past 30 years without seeing garbage. That's shocking.

Earle: Even in submersibles, going 2 ½ miles beneath the surface in the Nankai Trough many miles offshore, I've seen evidence of what we're dumping into the sea.

Think about that for a second. Twelve thousand feet down and you find garbage. It's something that was recently highlighted in a similar way by surfers Chris and Keith Malloy: No matter how remote the beach, no matter how far from other humans, they've found plastic on the beach.


Sylvia Earle speaking at TED in 2009

Earle went on to describe the modern commercial fishing industry:

We're paying billions of dollars [in subsidies] so commercial fishermen can destroy the ocean.

People don't know the real cost of the shrimp that are on their plates. Trawling for shrimp is like bulldozing a forest to catch songbirds and squirrels. You throw away the forest and all the other creatures and shake out a few pounds of protein.

For every pound of sushi that goes to market, 10 to 100 pounds are thrown away as by-catch. There are also the problems with mercury, fire retardant and pesticide contamination. Yum, yum.

When asked by Bloomberg "what can we eat?" Earle points to farmed catfish, tilapia, carp and certain mollusks as the best choices.

At the risk of reaching for the obvious, it also seems that the even better answer to the 'what can we eat?' question is: Plants, grown organically and shipped in a low-carbon manner, in season as much as possible.

Read more, Sylvia Earle has a lot of good things to say: Consuming Blue Fin Tuna Is Like Barbecuing Pandas: Interview
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More on Sylvia Earle:
TED 2010: Sylvia Earle Gets Her Wish - Mission Blue Launches to Create Marine Preserves
Sylvia Earle Wins TED 2009 With Talk on Our Oceans (Video)
Taking Time From Volcano Frenzy to Think About Oceans

Tags: Fishing | Oceans | Pollution