Be at One with the Ocean: Contemplations on Eating Fish and Fishless Fridays


I love fish. Poached salmon. Bouillabaisse. Absolutely sublime sushi. How can I say no to seafood? And why would I?

Sylvia Earle, an awe-inspiring scientist and oceanographer who has studied the ocean for over 50 years, helped change my perspective in her most recent book, The World is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean’s Are One. She covers a lot of ocean ground, but one particular bit stuck in my craw with regard to over-fishing.

“Ninety percent of many fish common [in the past half century] are now gone, consumed by eager diners unaware that in their lifetime they might witness the disappearance of some of their favorite wild-caught fare, from tuna and swordfish to lobsters and crabs.”

Slow Food in San Francisco has instituted Meatless Mondays. I began to wonder what we could do for fish. I thought of Fishless Fridays, but that suggests we’re eating fish all the other days of the week. Fish Friday comes to mind, but I believe that’s a Catholic tradition. Maybe it could be more like one day a month, a celebratory day called First Fish Friday, the only day of the month we allow ourselves a special treat from the sea.

It may seem extreme. But what’s more extreme? Reducing personal intake of an endangered food source, or gobbling it down as fast as you can while you watch it disappear? As Earle quoted John C. Sawhill: “In the end, our society will be defined not only by what we create, but by what we refuse to destroy.”

Image: Nicola Zingarelli