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Food has always been a part of a culture and the people are loyal to the food but they are unaware of the dangerto a species caused by a certain dish. That’s the reality that the Patagony tooth fish is facing. Jani Actman, oh her article “That Fish on Your Dinner Plate May Be an Endangered Species” on National Geographic, addressed the problem that the large tooth saw fish is disappearing from Pacific and Atlantic. This article has raised the question whether people would give up a dish, which is a part of their culture, to protect a specie that’s in danger.
In Jani’s article, she first addressed a fact that the number of Patagony fish is dropping fast due to overexploitation. However, this does not stop Brazilian fishermen from catching them illegally. Due to many methods used to sell the fish bypassing the government’s laws, protecting the fish will not be an easy task. The most common way to sell this fish illegally is swapping the label. This cause not only danger to the fish, but also to the economy and the consumer’s health.
This problem is also occurring in other countries such as US where “snapper, grouper, and salmon were least likely to actually be those types of fish” and Europe where “hake and sole were mislabeled the most”. Among the fishes that are mislabeled, sixteen percent is endangered and half of it is unknown. Jani also brings up a Sushi restaurant in California that was investigated for mislabeling their fish as an example.
Apart from the danger that many species are facing, another problem that mislabeling can cause is the risk to the consumer’s health. According to Jani’s article, “more than half the samples identified as a substitute species carried a health risk, including parasites, chemicals, and toxins such as ciguatera, which can cause neurological problems’. Because of the potential dangers, mislabeling has been brought to spotlight.
After many reports of fraud, President Obama commissioned a task force to stop the illegal fishing and mislabeling in 2014. The task force proposed to monitor the fishing and labelling of fourteen species within US border. In Japan, the most endangered one is shark. On the article “Sharks – feared predator in need of protection” on JapanToday.com, Johannes Burge wrote: “In 2003, basking sharks and whale sharks were the first sharks put onto appendix II, and following the last CITES meeting in 2013, a total of eight species of sharks and all manta rays were included”. Despite the concern raised by the international community towards Japan, shark is still on the endangered list for years with declining population. Food represents the history and ecology of the country and this makes it a lot harder to protect this species, especially on a culture which is famous thanks to seafood.
Not just Western culture, fish also has a huge role in Asian culture. In Asia, many types of fish are also disappearing because the fishermen are catching the younger fish to satisfy the rising consuming rate, whale and shark are among the most endangered. Many people refuse to give up on the dish that it is a part of their culture, something they grow up with. This makes it harder for the government to stop the illegal fishing. As long as there are still a lot of people wanting to consume, there will be fishermen trying to catch the fish to sell. Therefore, in other to win this battle, the government should first inform the people of the negative effects on the environment and on the future when an entire species disappears.
Food is culture but when it comes with a price that is way too high like that, people should seriously reconsider next time they purchase their favorite dish. When there is not enough fish to satisfy the market, this will open the path for mislabeling and other problems then maybe, it’s time we consider doing something differently to protect nature.
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