Are we all mad?

Posted by Fuchsia on November 16, 2009

My friend Andrea, cooking supper for a group of us at his home, mentioned that a mutual friend hadn’t been able to join us because he was at the ‘fish extinction awards, otherwise known as the sushi awards’. And so we got talking about the perilous state of bluefin tuna stocks (this magnificent fish is almost certain to be extinct within three years - just watch The End of the Line to see why).

And what I really wondered was why the Japanese, who have so much to lose, are so utterly cavalier in their approach to over-fishing. After all, there is very little meat in traditional Japanese cooking – their entire culinary culture, their identity, their way of life, their health, is bound up with fish. Japanese cuisine without raw fish, without bonito (that magic ingredient in dashi) is almost unimaginable. And with the loss of bluefin tuna such an immediate prospect, and the loss of so many other types of fish also looming in the not-distant future, why isn’t there more public concern, and action? It’s insane.

But then I reflected that it’s not much different from the staggering blindness of most of the human race – after, most of us are blithely trying to carry on as normal while we wipe out other species at a terrifying rate, pollute our surroundings, avoid thinking about the End of Oil, and chit-chat about climate change as if destabilising the ecological systems which sustain us was just another little political issue… Viewed with detachment, it’s as inexplicable as the behaviour of the Easter Islanders, who chopped down all their trees upon which their civilisation depended, and disappeared from the face of the earth. (Of course I’m thinking here of Jared Diamond’s brilliant Collapse, an account of how and why societies self-destruct.)


1 Comment to Are we all mad?

David Ockey
23 November 2009

Well, living here in Japan, it’s easy to understand why Japan never seems to step up to the plate when it comes to animal conservation. That information isn’t to be had here. When you walk into a supermarket, it all seems normal. Fish of all kinds everywhere, and cheap. No high prices, no one saying, hey, tuna is an endangered species. Tuna isn’t the only tuna that has been wiped out. Apparently, about 30 years ago or so, down in the south where I’m at, if you were a herring fisher, you were rich. They have some saying or rather that stated the fact. Now, the herring are gone. They fish a small amount up north and apparently they’re really expensive. Other herring comes from Scandinavia.

Shark fin can be easily gotten a hold of here. In fact, after I first got here was the only time that I’ve had it. After the add campaign started (on American cable shows) I decided to never have it again. However, I have never met anyone here who is even aware of the plight of sharks. The information is never disseminated. There are a variety of topics that are not talked about here, and that’s too bad. I’m not saying that we in the west are any better. What needs to happen is that this information needs to get out. We need to give people the chance to make a decision.

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