Updated: Mar 9, 2020
Do you know how many a trillion is? I had to look it up just to check. It turns out that a trillion is a million, million. That’s a HUGE number! I mean a million is big enough. A billion, well that’s a thousand million… but a trillion?!?
Why am I going on about big numbers like this? It’s because every year, somewhere between 1 and 3 trillion fish are caught for food. Think about that for a second. Think about a fish. A single fish. Now think about a hundred fish, a thousand fish, a million fish! Even that’s a mind-blowing number of fish. So the idea that (using the low end of the fish catching estimate) a trillion fish are caught every single year, is staggering. That’s about 142 fish for every single person on earth every year.
When we think about animals used for food, the animals that usually come to mind are cows, pigs, sheep or chickens. Farm animals and animal agriculture, that’s where most of our food comes from. Do you know how many farm animals are raised for food each year? About 70 billion. That’s 14 animals per person, per year. An insanely high number but a mere drop in the ocean (pun intended) compared to fish.
Now let me just go back to that fish number for a moment. I said that every year, somewhere between 1 and 3 trillion fish are caught for food. That discrepancy isn’t because the number of fish that are caught fluctuates and changes every year. No, it’s because the most accurate estimate available of how many fish are caught is “between 1 and 3 trillion”.
How little of a crap do you have to give about an animal, that 2 trillion is an acceptable discrepancy in the number.
That’s 2 trillion fish that are deemed too insignificant to even warrant counting properly.
People often don’t give much thought to fish. Not compared to animals like cows or pigs. They’re perhaps too different, too unlike us or the other animals that walk around on land. But fish live meaningful lives, forming complex social groups and relationships. They have long memories and cognitive functions far greater than most people realise. And they have a range of emotional states and can feel pain and fear.
And yet 2 trillion of them don’t even get a real mention.
What we put on our plates is becoming increasingly important these days and we’re becoming more accountable for the impact our food choices are having on the world.
Fishing at this level is simply not sustainable so whether it’s the welfare of fish, the environment, or creating a more sustainable world, it doesn’t really matter what we care about the most. What matters is what we do.
We can all make a choice and we can all make a difference, so the next time you’re deciding on what to eat, try leaving out the fish and choosing a plant-based option instead and do your part in making sure that our oceans remain full of beauty, colour, diversity and life.