I seem to have convinced myself that my love of the ocean started the first time I went snorkeling, the first time I witnessed the wonder of a coral reef. However, I recently realized that my relationship with marine life probably started well before that trip to Grand Cayman. And it didn’t start in the water, it started on a plate.
One of the best parts about studying marine science and devoting time and energy to learning about marine conservation has been all the amazing meals I’ve eaten in the past year. There was the Chef’s Collaborative Trash Fish dinner at Area Four in Boston, a wonderful dinner with my classmates on the way back from conducting interviews in Stonington, Maine, Eating with the Ecosystem’s community seafood dinner in South Kingstown RI, featuring underloved species, and many home-cooked meals experimenting with fresh, local fish from Red’s Best. Studying fisheries has brought me closer to the ocean in a way that I never expected but have fully embraced. Food, specifically seafood, has broadened my horizons when it comes to marine conservation, which is about more than just protecting oceans; it’s also about protecting the people that depend on our oceans for survival.
When I first started studying marine science, my view of seafood was more or less in line with Silvia Earle’s. ‘Her Deepness’ feels that we should stop eating fish altogether. Suffice it to say, I have struggled to stay away from seafood, my favorite source of protein. I have also realized that eating seafood does not always mean hurting the ocean. Marine issues are not black-and-white; simply refraining from seafood will not fix the oceans. In his book The Perfect Protein, Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless, came up with a sustainable and simple seafood-eating credo, one that I try to live by: “Eat wild seafood. Not too much of the big fish. Mostly Local.”