By Kaeley Sterkel
Whales are a key component to the ocean’s stability and when their species is thriving the ocean is thriving. We have helped most species of whale escape the grasp of extinction and grow to full return. Unfortunately, this does not include all species such as the right whale and blue whale. Even though there has been great effort done in the past to get whales where they are now, the fight and conservation must always be done.
Today the number one threat to whales is the commercial fishing industry. Often whales will be found entangled with large amounts of fishing gear wrapped around their bodies. It is not often that we find this problem in Dana Point but a few weeks ago off our shore there was a gray whale caught in a massive bundle of gill netting. It is heartbreaking to see such a massive and powerful animal become helpless. Fortunately, there is an OC whale entanglement group that went out to help the whale. This may be a rare occasion for Dana Point, but it raises the question as to how harmful the commercial fishing industry can truly be.
The fishing industry has shifted from catching fish in their natural habitats to breeding thousands of fish in crowded tanks or pens to keep up with human consumption now raises ethical and environmental concerns.
How Can You Help?
The best possible option is to cut fish out of your diet. By doing this you are not giving in to the industry as well as protecting yourself from unwanted mercury levels.
Often when you go out to a restaurant or large chain and purchase fish you are feeding into the large fishing industry, instead be mindful where your fish is coming from and try to eat small scale local caught fish.
There are also different types of fish that are more impactful to the industry. For example, the most farmed fish are tilapia and carp and by staying clear from those fish you are moving away from the industry. In the United States it is also important to try and avoid shrimp because with the amount of shrimp taken from the ocean it leaves large pockets of barren wasteland. By becoming more educated on what not to consume you are taking the power away from the industry.
You can also support your local groups who work to keep the oceans and beaches clean by joining us at one for our beach clean ups or being mindful when out and about to pick up any trash you find on the ground.
You can also email your local representative to get entanglement bills moved forward in your state. Your representative is the voice for the people to the government and it is important to use that voice for good.