University of Washington Sustainable fisheries X Valentine Thomas

Humans have been fishing for over 40,000 years. To this day, seafood is crucial to good nutrition and a healthy eating pattern (source) and an estimated 3 billion people on earth depend on it to survive (source).

Are there problems within the seafood industry? Oh yes. Plenty of them. Just as there are plenty of problems within the food system more broadly including in agricultural commodities emanating from meat and plant-based sources (source).[C1]  The food system is incredibly complex, nuanced, and increasingly interconnected. It will only get more challenging as the planet adds 1-2 billion more mouths to feed in the coming decades. 

We need to figure out solutions to sustainably feeding so many people, but with so many special interests in global food (from mega corps to “environmental” activists), it’s hard to sort through clickbait propaganda and what is factually backed by real science. 

Social media is positive in some ways, giving us tools to engage and connect with each other as I so enjoy connecting with each of you. It also democratizes media access, breaking up corporate monopolies and giving us all an opportunity to participate. But it is undeniable that we are living in a time when harmful misinformation is spreading like an unstoppable infectious disease. There are fraudsters and cranks trying to sell products and personal brands deliberately spreading misinformation for personal gain. And there are well intentioned people trying to pass on helpful information. Whatever the source, misinformation and junk science is being weaponized and consumed at a rate that some believe is literally killing us, with one study finding 1 in 3 social media articles on cancer being inaccurate (source), and also killing our opportunity to form a healthier relationship with one another and with our planet. 

For scientists, the battle is uphill. Inaccurate information is extremely contagious a study by MIT found a 70% greater likelihood that misinformation will be retweeted when compared to true stories (source). The truth also can’t keep up – for instance when measuring the rate of dissemination of misinformation vs. true information, fake news moves 6 times faster (source).

Click-bait, catch phrases and emotional photos/claims are powerful mediums to communicate misinformation. This isn’t ok with me and I’ve tried to leverage my platform to give truth, especially as it pertains to seafood and the food system, a louder voice. Along these lines I have an exciting announcement! I have officially partnered with the team of fisheries scientists led by Dr. Ray Hilborn of the University of Washington to start a blog series on seafood with a simple mission: to make the world a more sustainable place by being conscious of the food we eat.

We will provide you easily digestible information with scientifically backed sources for every claim and transparency as a foundational value. Our topics of focus are: 

  • Explaining the science behind global food and seafood sustainability.
  • Sustainable food options (like our seafood buying guide).
  • Why eating seafood is often a good choice for the planet.
  • How seafood compares to alternative food options. 
  • Fighting misinformation in fisheries and seafood.
  • Debunking common myths.
  • Answering your questions. 

Engaging the public is also important! Please send us your questions, worries or comments you would like addressed. 

This blog is dedicated to the thousands of amazing people working their butts off to make the ocean (and the earth) a better place by tackling real issues and finding solutions to a very complex topic touching billions of people. For those people who are under appreciated, under paid and have the most fulgurous and impressive passion I have ever seen. Thank you. You are the real hidden heroes of ocean conservationism. 

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