Here We Go Again

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | September 10, 2009 2:43 pm

filetofish-717687.jpgFrom yesterday’s NYTimes:

The answer to the eternal mystery of what makes up a Filet-O-Fish sandwich turns out to involve an ugly creature from the sunless depths of the Pacific, whose bounty, it seems, is not limitless.

The world’s insatiable appetite for fish, with its disastrous effects on populations of favorites like red snapper, monkfish and tuna, has driven commercial fleets to deeper waters in search of creatures unlikely to star on the Food Network.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, our oceans are going to hell in a handbasket. Sad, but not news to anyone paying attention. The signs of dramatic ocean decline are crystal clear.

When there’s nothing but jellyfish and algae left, our children may wonder why we knew, yet did nothing. So it goes.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Conservation, Marine Science

Comments (5)

  1. Sorbet

    Worry not! We can always have the wholly synthetic menu from Taco Bell

  2. MadScientist

    People love to deny that they could actually be destroying aquatic systems. I really don’t know why; you’d think after decimating Monterey Bay almost 100 years ago, when the population of the USA was much smaller, would have given people a clue – but no, humans are too thick. Add to that these people I keep running into these days who say “eat fish, not cows, it’s better for the environment”; It’s pretty hard not to smack ’em.

    You don’t have to try very hard to find news articles about fishermen blaming whales, seals, hobby fishers, etc. for the declines in their stock. Such accusations are unbelievably stupid – the few tens of thousand of seals around can’t even compete with a single ‘small’ trawler which would pull in tens of tons per week. BUT – it’s better to blame others than to waste time and money trying to think of schemes which are sustainable.

  3. Blogger

    Sheril, do you eat seafood?

  4. Occasionally, if it’s been harvested or farmed sustainably.

  5. Blogger

    Unless I misunderstood the issue, at one time it was thought that pollack was in that position…now we learn that the crop has cratered.

    Can we truly be sure that any seafood is safe to consume?


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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry.Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.comFor more information, visit her website or email Sheril at


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