I respect my friend Sylvia Earle’s refusal to eat seafood, as well as the famed ocean scientist’s argument that no market hunting has ever been sustainable. Still, there’s nothing as delicious to me as a wild salmon I’ve caught myself, or raw oysters from cold waters with their fresh briny sea flavor, or fried calamari with beer and the Giants winning another World Series. But I’ll only eat fish, bivalves, and cephalopods that still have a fighting chance—and my menu options are rapidly shrinking.
Most fish—including 90 percent of the largest pelagic (open ocean) fish, such as sharks, big tuna, and black marlin—have disappeared from the world’s oceans since the end of World War II. Actually, they didn’t disappear. They ended up on the plates of white linen restaurants and in the supermarket seafood aisles of the developed world.
At the end of World War II, about 15 million tons of ocean fish were being caught each year. Today, we’re taking some 85 million tons—perhaps more, according to a study soon to be released.