The fight against the destruction of the ocean’s biosphere through over fishing or destructive fishing practices is about more than just the fish themselves. It’s also about the people and the communities in Canada, and around the world, who rely on fishing for food and for their livelihoods.

© Greenpeace / Kevin Hill
© Greenpeace / Kevin Hill

This was made crystal clear by one person who Greenpeace talked to at a direct action event held at a Metro Supermarket in Hamilton, Ontario on June 1st.

With activists dressed as a shark and a cod, a fish’s skeleton hanging above a sign evaluating Canada’s supermarkets (all of whom received failing grades) and a banner asking the store and its shoppers not to buy or sell Redlist fish, one man gave the campaign, and the campaigners, a local perspective.

Tom, a middle aged man originally from Newfoundland, was personally affected by the effects of over-fishing. He lost his job as a fisherman when the fish stocks “went bad”, directly leading to the collapse of the fishery he worked for.

His friends, neighbors and colleagues were forced to give up their traditional work and lifestyle and go into new trades like truck driving. Many had to leave the place they called home in search of work.

After a few years of struggle he, and many like him, moved west to Ontario’s manufacturing sector. He now looks back and laments the series of events that changed the course of his life - but he won’t go back, because the life he knew there is gone.

He knows from personal experience that when important species, like those found on Greenpeace’s Redlist, are made commercially extinct, or fished to the point where their stocks cannot produce enough to be fished at commercial levels, individuals, communities and whole industries are affected.

Only by acting to protect seafood stocks in advance of their collapse can the ocean’s biosphere be saved. Only by demanding sustainable seafood policies, including the elimination of environmentally destructive fishing practices, from those who produce and distribute seafood can individuals and communities who depend on the oceans be sustained.

Greenpeace’s Redlist consists of 15 species that currently should not be bought or sold due to stock status, the method of catch or farming and the impact those methods have on the environment and communities. The list of fish and the ‘Out of Stock’ report can be found at www.greenpeace.ca/out-of-stock