UW Aquatic & Fishery Sciences Quantitative Seminar

Ray Hilborn

UW- School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences

Eating whales to save the rainforest? Should an environmentally conscientious person eat fish?


As world population grows and food demand increases, many wonder how the earth can sustain this growing demand. Different forms of food production cause different stressors on the environment. In this talk I will look specifically at the relative environmental impact of marine capture fisheries compared to terrestrial agriculture. Marine capture fisheries in general have less environmental impact than any form of terrestrial livestock production -- for instance to replace marine capture fisheries production by livestock grazing, the worlds rain forests would all need to be cut down 22 times over! Sustainable harvesting of whales could produce about 1 million tons of meat per year - this could save an enormous amount of terrestrial habitat, and reduce pollution in significant ways. Marine capture fisheries also have less environmental impact in many dimensions than small scale organic vegetable production. I will include some discussion of the relative impacts of aquaculture. I will also pose the question of why marine fisheries are held to totally different standards than terrestrial production. For instance if you replaced the word "marine" with "terrestrial" in the Marine Mammal Protection Act would we have anything to eat?

Audience members are encouraged to bring sushi for after seminar snacks!

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