The Big Fish Problem

by Dan Bloom

People have been eating fish for millennia. We have always fished as well as we could, as often as we could, and fed hungry populations with the catch.

Technology has helped to advance most industries and fishing is no exception, but technology helped the fishing industry get too good, perhaps better than it should be. Our utter mastery of the seafood hunt results in an unfortunate conundrum: the better we are, the more fish we catch, the less fish remain to regenerate their species. Scientists predict that if current trends continue, most of the species we enjoy as seafood could be extinct by the middle of this century.

A concerned coalition is working to combat this dilemma through consumer education, political advocacy and mass media projects. Charles Clover is an environmental journalist and the author of The End of the Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat. He is also the main figure in the documentary film that was made echoing the message of the book.

Clover doesn’t want to scare people away from eating all seafood, in fact, he has partnered with chefs to get the word out about overfishing and sustainability. One such chef is Washington DC’s own Barton Seaver. Currently the executive chef at Blue Ridge restaurant, a fellow with the Blue Ocean Institute, and an advocate for local eating and sustainable seafood.

Informing consumers is a major objective of Clover, Seaver and their allies in the sustainable seafood movement. That’s why they created, an interactive website where consumers can find information, submit reviews and see ratings of seafood restaurants. The ratings are based on the amount of effort the restaurant puts into supporting sustainable seafood practices.


“The End of The Line” the film’s website

Barton Seaver’s website

Bob’s interview with Sylvia Earle is mentioned a few times during the interview, you can hear the Bob Edwards Weekend version here.