With Easter holidays across much of Europe and the Americas earlier this month, I was given the delightful task of navigating the raft of April Fool’s stories that came in over the Easter weekend.
Ranging from zombie attacks to wildly aphrodisiac oysters causing a local baby boom, some were more believable than others.
One in particular caught my attention: A story in an Irish newspaper claiming a new EU law had been passed allowing seafood to contain 10 percent plastic.
Clearly insane, but it dragged me back to questioning how much plastic is indeed already infiltrating our seafood supply chain and how much the industry contributes to this deeply alarming issue of non-degrading plastic in our oceans.
I may seem a little late to the game, but on a personal level, I had a recent epiphany on the issue.
From bemoaning the Stalin-esque recycling regime of my local London council and its rules on yogurt lids, a move to southeast Asia two years ago really brought home what exactly we were facing.
You’ve all seen the photo of the seahorse clinging to a plastic cotton bud, the videos of divers swimming through shoals of plastic bags. But getting into these oceans and witnessing the synthetic savagery first hand I am, later than others, earlier than some, disgusted and angry about the damage we are doing to our seas.
The stomach-churning realization has seen me instigate a plastic-avoidance program in my home that Wandsworth Council recyclers would be proud of and that my entire family hates me for.
I embarrass my kids in cafes by purposefully returning the proffered plastic straws; I trip over myself refusing plastic bags in favor of crushing my grocery shopping into one re-usable cloth alternative. My coffee-guzzling husband is "encouraged" to carry a re-usable cup with him and my kids' school lunches are packaged in a colorful and imaginative array of used jars and takeaway cartons.
But it is painfully obvious that my small actions will make very little impact, and as the problem proliferates I am left with a building sense of rage at the lack of action by governments and big corporation.
WHY does my yogurt have its own plastic spoon in the lid? WHY THE HELL are my apples wrapped in styrofoam?! And WHY, WHY, WHY do airlines insist on handing out as many plastic cups as they possibly can when voluntary re-use or paper alternatives would save money and our environment?
Social media agrees that something must be done with mounting pressure being put on businesses to up their game and the mainstream press are finally catching up on the issue too:
- Are seafood lovers really eating 11,000 bits of plastic per year?
- From sea to plate: How plastic got into our fish
- Plastic microparticles found in flesh or fish eaten by humans
- Ocean life eats tons of plastic - Here's why that matters
But among all of this anger, one industry stays particularly silent on the issue. The industry who has perhaps the most to lose in the face of plastic pollution, the industry who could arguably influence governments and businesses to instigate change: the seafood industry.
As a sector heavily reliant on the health of our oceans, I am bemused as to why all but a few (see related stories) are you not rallying and crying out for something to be done?
Is it because you fear the revelation that the food you are producing is already full of plastic? Is it because you fear the level of contribution you might be making to the problem?
No? Then why so quiet, seafood producers?
Unless you want all the industry's production to be land-based in the next 50 years, I would suggest now would be the time to tackle your demons and speak up.
Our grandchildren don't want a side of foam noodles with their sushi.