Andy Sharpless: “The Perfect Protein: Fish Lover’s Guide to Saving the Oceans and Feeding the World”

Andy Sharpless: “The Perfect Protein: Fish Lover’s Guide to Saving the Oceans and Feeding the World”


ANDY SHARPLESS: Thanks
very much. So, thank you all for coming. I’m going to speak briefly. And then, I hope you’ll
ask me questions. We can take advantage of the
fact that we have a group small enough to do that. So, now, in my role as an
author, for the first time, I get asked this question, why
did you write this book? It’s like the starting
question I get asked. And I wanted to think, in a
genuine way, about where the kernel for the book
really comes. What was the experience that
started us down this path? And I think it’s a moment in
Geneva, about five or six years ago, when I was there
to talk to the World Trade Organization about helping to
stop overfishing and stop ocean collapse. And we went to see
the Chinese trade representative in Geneva. And it’s quite interesting. In Geneva, 150 countries of the
world represented there, for international discussions
about managing the world’s trade. The United States Embassy
is surrounded by perimeters of fences. And the Chinese Embassy
is open. You walk in. You meet the Chinese ambassador,
then who was about 35 years old, very distinguished
young man, very well dressed. We sit down with him. And we said, we have a bad
history as a planet in managing the oceans. They are collapsing. And he said, we have a billion
people in China. They’re very hungry. We’re going to feed them. You guys have gotten
your chance. We need to make sure we
can feed our people. It was a very sincere and strong
message on behalf of the food side of the equation. And I went away and thought
about it and said, OK. So there we have two very
morally compelling gulfs. Protect life on the planet– the traditional conservation
agenda, protect biodiversity– or feed people. Make sure people
aren’t hungry. Make sure that in the year 2050,
when there are 2 billion more people on the planet, we
don’t have children waking up hungry everywhere. We have nearly a billion, 950
million, people, now waking up hungry frequently
on the planet. So this is not an imaginary
problem. Now, if you think about the
origin of the conservation movement, it goes back about
100, 120 years ago. And it starts on the land. And on the land, if you ask
the question, what is the biggest driver of biodiversity
loss on the planet, the answer is agriculture. This is the reason that
we are losing species. It’s the chief reason we are
losing species on the land. And so, the history of the
conversation movement is– because there’s a fundamental
moral kind of war between feeding people and
protecting life– that you kind of choose sides. And the conservationists’ side
is we’re going to protect biodiversity. And if that means we have to
stand against agriculture, we’ll stand against
agriculture. Because we don’t see on
the land that you can simultaneously optimize for
food production and for biodiversity protection. So there’s a kind of a war in
people’s heads that comes from the land-based experience
of conservation. And when we went into the ocean,
when the conservation movement went into the ocean,
oh, about 30 years ago– and your colleague Jennifer
therefore can date herself to being one of the early pioneers
of thinking about the ocean, because it’s really
only about 30 years old– that mindset was
taken with us. So we went into the ocean,
and we thought the job of optimizing food production
at the ocean cannot be simultaneously optimized with
the job of biodiversity protection of the ocean. You have to make a choice just
because we’re used to making that choice on the land. That framework drove the
conservation agenda in opposition to the
food production agenda in the ocean. Now, we are right now on a
path where we are getting fewer fish from the ocean every
year despite increasing efforts to catch them. Despite using advanced
technologies of all sorts to track down and catch fish, the
world’s fishery catch, just in tonnage, peaked in the
late 1980s and has been coming down. You’ve heard of peak oil. Well, we’ve crossed peak
fish, wild fish. At a moment when we have all
of these hungry people, you would want that to be going
the other direction. That opportunity turns
out to be real. And the message of the book is
that if we will manage our oceans well, we can have a
future, by 2050, that is different in this very
quantifiable way. We are on a path to be feeding
about 450 million seafood meals a day in the year
2050 if we’ll stay on the path we’re on. If we manage the oceans better,
we can do 800 million meals a day. And if we stopped feeding fish
to pigs and animals, it could be a billion people a day
forever being fed healthy seafood meal. So that’s the order of magnitude
of the choice, 450 million versus on the order of
1 billion people a day, a seafood meal every single day. Now, how do we do that? How do we get there? Now, the common idea– now, in all of your heads,
unless you’re way more advanced than the typical group
that I’ve talked about it, which you may be, since
we are here at Google– is that you’re thinking about
the map of the world. And you’re thinking, you know,
the map of the world’s oceans looks like a pretty
international place. It looks, to me, as a naive
observer of the world’s oceans, that we are only going
to manage the oceans well if we construct international
committees to collaborate around the rules and enforce
the rules for managing fishing, because that’s
the way the map looks. And if you are a practical
person, you would be discouraged. Because we don’t do a very good
job in the world, sadly, at doing international
management of anything. We don’t do a very good job of
international management of stopping killing people,
let alone too much killing of fish. So how could you, as a practical
person, get excited about the job of producing
all of this seafood for the future? Here’s the very good
news for you. It turns out that life in
the ocean is not equally distributed. Seven out of eight pounds of
the world’s wild fish are caught in the coastal
zones of the oceans. Now, that is a surprising
insight, because the most charismatic fish in the ocean
are, like the most charismatic creatures on the land, big
predators, lions and tigers of the ocean. And like lions and tigers on
the land, they have big territories. And they have the tendency to
spend a lot of their life out in the international zone
of the seas, which is called the high seas. And indeed, they do need to be
protected by international cooperation. So the tunas, the sharks, that
we think of and we love, are, in fact, extremely vulnerable. And the future will struggle to
see many of those, because they do require us to do
what we don’t do well, international agreements. But here’s the good news from
the point of view of food. The coastal zones of the world’s
oceans are controlled country by country, by
the adjacent country. Every coastal country, out to
200 nautical miles, by itself sets the rules for what happens
in that ocean with respect to fishing. Nobody fishes within 200
nautical miles of the United States Coast without fishing
under the rules that the Americans set. So they have to fish with
our quota rules. They have to fish with our
habitat protection rules. They have to comply with
our bycatch rules. You cannot overfish the American
ocean because the Spanish come in and decide they
want to fish our ocean. It’s not a tragedy of the
commons, in that classic way, where nobody’s in charge. The Americans are in charge
of their ocean. The Chileans are in charge
of their ocean. The Europeans are in charge
of their ocean. And on and on and on. And, in fact, by the way,
interesting fact, the country in the world with the biggest
coastal territory, by square miles, is the United
States of America. So if you’re an American, you
can think of yourself as having more opportunity than
the average citizen of the world to influence the future
of this part of the world’s nature, natural systems. From the point of view of food,
though, we want to ask the question, how many countries
would it take to do a good job managing their ocean,
managing their ocean fishery, to deliver the ocean
intact and abundant to the year 2050, to feed all these
people, that are going to be here then, healthy seafood
meals, delicious seafood meals like we had today in the
Google cafeteria? So we, at Oceana, made a list,
with the countries with the biggest catch from their coastal
zones at the top and the ones with the smallest
catch, by weight at the bottom. And we asked the question, if
the top 10 countries on that list, just the top 10 countries
on that list, were to do a good job managing their
oceans, what share of the world’s wild fish catch
could we deliver in a healthy state to the future? And the answer is 2/3. Nine countries and the European
Union together control the catch of
2/3 of the wild’s fish catch by weight. The tunas and the swordfish
are not. You know, they’re charismatic
and they’re important. But by weight, they don’t
contribute as much as you would think. And from the point of view of
feeding people, weight is what we’re concerned about, weight
of healthy animal protein. Yeah? AUDIENCE: When you say weight,
do you say weight that goes to human consumption or also,
like, farms and pigs and everything? ANDY SHARPLESS: The question
is, when I say weight, am I talking about fish that gets
fed directly to people or including stuff that gets
fed to animals? And I’m talking about the catch,
no matter where it gets delivered to. And so, that question points to
another interesting fact. And I mentioned it earlier. We have a big opportunity in the
future to feed people by stopping or reducing the
practice of feeding fish to fish or feeding fish
to animals. Let me just address
that directly. Very often, people will say,
isn’t the solution to overfishing of the oceans
farming of fish? And when I eat a farmed fish,
aren’t I doing something that’s good for the ocean? And intuitively, it sounds
like you are. In fact, you have to ask
the following question. What does the fish that you are
eating, that is farmed, what does it eat? And the answer to that question
creates three categories that are, basically,
good, bad, and indifferent, depending upon
what the fish eats. If the fish eats fish, that’s
a problem category. If the fish eats grain, it’s a
kind of a neutral category. If the farmed fish eats algae,
like oysters, clams, mussels do, that’s basically an
unalloyed good thing. So what’s a fish that eats a lot
of fish, that’s farmed a lot, that we see a lot of? Salmon. This is a carnivore. Salmon eats other fish. And I’ve been to the salmon
pens in Chile. And they take wild fish, grind
them up into little pellets that look like dog food
but smell like fish. And they feed them to the
farm salmon in the pens. And in the process, they convert
four or five pounds of wild salmon into one pound
of farmed fish. So it’s a reduction activity. By contrast, by happy contrast,
the farmer of mussels, the farmer of clams,
the farmer of oysters, is creating a healthy and delicious
seafood out of something that eats algae. It’s not something human
beings eat or livestock generally eat. And, by the way, in so doing
cleans the ocean, because it’s a filter feeder. And, by the way, it’s even
better because it’s that rarest of things in the world. It’s a for profit company with
employees and with profits and with all of the connections
that profitable businesses have to the political
establishment, which must have a clean ocean. Because if you’re finding
oysters in a polluted ocean, they don’t taste good
or they die. So we, as people who want there
to be an abundant ocean, encourage you to eat as many
farmed mussels, clams, and oysters as you can stomach. Go today, and eat
mussels tonight. There’s a recipe for
them in my book. And there were some today at
the cafeteria, one of those recipes, clams. So we talked about nine
countries plus the European Union. I want to address an
important fact. You’re wondering if I slipped
something tricky in there by saying the European Union,
because you will know that there are 27 countries in
the European Union. So I didn’t, like, finesse this
by getting 9 plus 27 to sound like 10. The European Union manages its
fisheries on a continental basis out of Brussels. The rules for all 27 member
states on quotas, habitat and bycatch, or on overfishing or
not are set in one place by one set of decision makers
in Brussels. So for purposes of fishery
management, it’s authentic and legitimate to treat the European
Union as one country. So nine countries plus the
European Union, if they will stop overfishing, can manage, do
manage, 2/3 of the world’s fish by weight and can deliver
those in healthy state to the future. If you go to 25 countries,
counting the European Union as a country, which is the correct
way to count it for fisheries purposes, you get the
90% of the world’s wild fish by weight. So this is a very
doable thing. We can. It comes down to 10 decision
makers doing basically one thing, stopping overfishing, to
make sure all this natural, healthy seafood is available
for the future. Now, I want to point
out one last thing. In the forecasts for the planet
between now and 2050, there is an optimistic plan that
the middle classes are going to grow and that there
will be a big expansion in the middle class of China,
Brazil, India. This is devoutly to
be hoped for. This is a good thing. That means, among other things,
that they will be eating a lot more
animal protein. And if you face up to what the
consequences of expanded livestock production will be
for the planet, you will be very worried, because livestock
production is one of the most intensive forms
of agriculture. And remember, I talked about
agriculture broadly being the enemy of biodiversity on the
planet on the land, while livestock production is a
really tough problem for biodiversity on the land. It also is a big producer of
methane and, therefore, climate forcing activity
on the planet. It also is a huge demander
of fresh water and aquifer depletion. So if you care about
those things– climate change, aquifer
depletion, deforestation– you need to care about making
the ocean abundant. I assume all of us here
care about feeding poor and hungry people. But if you are so hardhearted
that that’s not part of your agenda, and all you care about
is these other things, you also have a reason to fight
for an abundant ocean. I have had some people
say to me, I don’t really like seafood. I don’t even understand how
somebody in the middle of Africa, who lives nowhere near
seafood, is going to benefit from an abundant ocean. Tell me why I should
care about this. My answer is, seafood right
now is equal to eggs as a source of animal protein
in the human diet– A– so it’s bigger than
you think it is. And B, if you’re a person
who eats food– let’s imagine that
possibility– or you’re a person in the middle
of Africa who is never going to see a fish but who
is hungry, and that’s your client– in your head, you want
to help that person– you can help them by making
the oceans be abundant, because the price of grain
in the year 2050 will be different if we have an abundant
ocean or not, because livestock production is a
big demander of grain. And so, the price of a taco, the
price of a loaf of bread, will be different in the year
2050, and better and more affordable for that person in
the middle of Africa, if we have an abundant ocean. So I really want the world
to see this opportunity. And I really want us
to capture it. The last thing I want to say–
and then I’ll take questions– when you think about nature,
and you think about what it takes to restore nature,
consider that the oceans are one of the strongest and most
fertile and most robust parts of nature on the planet. Fish, many of them, lay
eggs by the millions. You can, and it’s proven in
the data, if you will stop overfishing and you will allow
spawning stocks to rebuild, you can, in 5 or 10 years, 5
or 10 years, see measurable increases in ocean abundance. You can get to a point where you
can have a bigger catch, a sustainable bigger catch, very
much in the lifetimes of everybody in this room. It’s not like the longer-term
task of rebuilding a rain forest, which can take
100 years, if that. This is something that
short attention span theater rewards. We can get there. We can get there. And we can get there in a
way that’s measurable. We think the blunt estimate
is that the world, if well managed, if it managed its
oceans well, can increase the sustainable catch on the order
of 20% to 40% over the previous peak. So I talked at the beginning
of my remarks about the world’s fish catch peaking
in the late 1980s. There is upside on top of that
peak on the order of 20% to 40% if we can get these top 10
countries to do a good job. And then, the fundamental point
here is that the mindset that I talked about at the
beginning of my remarks, about the war between agriculture
and biodiversity, the war between feeding people and
protecting life that occurs on the land, is wrong when
it comes to the ocean. Those two things are
actually allies. Those two enemies
are now allies. The task of feeding people wild
seafood, we are eating a wild creature. So the things that we do to
make the wild creatures abundant benefit the
biodiversity of the ocean. The way you have a really
productive ocean is you have a biodiverse ocean. So you do not have to choose, if
you are managing them well. Indeed, you are doing the things
that are achieving both goals at once. So thank you very much. That’s my quick overview
of the book. I hope you will read the book. It’s called “The Perfect
Protein.” President Clinton was nice
enough to write the forward for it, partly because he
helped, as Jennifer explained, to sign the laws in place in
the United States that tightened our regulation of our
oceans and made us one of the better ocean managers
in the world. We are seeing progress
around the world. And I think that this is one
of those problems that the world can actually fix. Thank you very much. [APPLAUSE] So I am delighted to take
questions or comments. AUDIENCE: So I’ve been to
Iceland, at the invitation of President Grimsson, and seen
how they manage their fisheries successfully there. They’re profitable. They’re sustainable. They do sound science. So, certainly, when the will is
there to manage a fishery effectively, it can
be managed. So what do you think the most
important thing that needs to happen, to inspire the will to
tackle the global issue both the United States and abroad,
to actually do what Iceland has done? ANDY SHARPLESS: Well, there’s
good ways for this to happen, and there’s bad ways
for this to happen. Very often, the way the
world does this is that it sees a collapse. It lets things get to the point
of serious difficulty. Chile, where we have worked
very, very successfully over the last 10 years, is an
example of the latter. They mismanaged their
industrial fleet. They collapsed their three
biggest fisheries. The scientists would come in
and recommend the quota. The fleet would say, we
want a bigger quota. The government would exceed
to the fleet demands. And so, guess what? They crashed their fisheries. After about 10 or 15 years of
inability to catch their permitted quotas, because they
had overfished so badly, the fleet was pretty discredited. The government regulators were
now in a position to see that they needed to do something
different. And we were successful in
January of this year in getting the law there changed
from a discretionary regime to a mandatory regime. And this is basically what
President Clinton did in 1995. And this is what the European
Union is on the verge of doing in the next few months. In every place in the world,
where you have a law that says to the regulators, if you
would like, you can set scientific quotas, if you would
like, you can protect nursery habitat, you could
choose, the law will allow you to manage bycatch, if that’s
the law, it doesn’t work. And what we did in 1995, and
what the Chileans did in January, and what the Europeans
are on the verge of doing, is making those three
things mandatory. And so, the law says you must,
if you’re the regulator and the manager of this fishery,
set scientific quotas, you must protect nursery habitat,
you must reduce bycatch. You can get there. Chiefly, the way the world gets
there is by seeing in the numbers collapses and
knowing that they need to make a change. That’s the bad path the
Chileans traveled. That’s the bad path the
Europeans traveled. The Americans didn’t let our
Pacific fishery collapse before we realized that we
needed to make a fix. The New England fishery got
pretty badly ruined here by overfishing. So we had examples of
mismanagement of our own. You cab also have an upside
story, which is, of course, what the book is trying to say,
which is that this is a great opportunity. There’s lots of upside here
from good management– people love seafood. They like to eat it. It tastes good. It’s healthy for them. It’s good for the planet. It’s the perfect protein– and to try to get people to
focus on the upside, but history would suggest that more
often people have to have a brush with disaster
to get motivated to do the right thing. AUDIENCE: Can you speak, just
because we’re from the US now, a little more about
how you would actually change our practices? So we have quota levels today. If we were to implement some
of the restrictions you mentioned, how different are
they than today’s quotas? Would we be changing the type of
fish we would be gathering? What other measures would
you put in place? Is it the methodology? Just speak to kind of where on
the food chain you’d want to select from, things like that? ANDY SHARPLESS: So, in the
United States of America, the good news is, and since we’re
on the Pacific here, the Pacific American fisheries
are pretty well managed. So we don’t have big problems
in the Pacific. We’ve done a good job there. New England fishery is a
disaster, as I mentioned. We need to allow the New England
fisheries to rebuild. So we need to set and enforce
lower quotas there, protect some nursery habitat, especially
from bottom trawling, reduce bycatch. AUDIENCE: Well, like, what’s
a rough percentage? Are we talking about, like,
cut it by 20% or cut it by, like, 60%? What does it take for it to
get a chance to grow back? ANDY SHARPLESS: It’s hard for
me to give you a summary answer, because as species by
species, it’s different. And I haven’t calculated, but
could calculate, like, if you averaged together the New
England fisheries by weight and what the average change
would be there. And then, you have a decision
about how fast you want the rebuild to occur. You know what I mean? There’s a trade-off. Like, you can do the math
in your head, right? There’s a trade-off between a
lower cut in current fishing pressure and then a faster
rebound versus a smaller cut and then a slower rebuild. And that’s, in fact, the
struggle that is happening in New England right now. We would have a preference for
a lower cut and a faster rebuild, because you get
more results and more fish that way. Reasonable question
you’re asking. I don’t have the summary math in
my head for New England or the United States. I do want to shift to two other
things that we ought to do that your question
asked about. As an individual, you ought to
guide your fish consumption in the following way. Eat wild. Eat small species. Eat local. Eat farmed shellfish
wherever you can. And I’m sorry to say, don’t
eat any shrimp anymore. I can explain these five
simple rules quickly. Wild, we talked about, as
being better than farmed already in my answers, in
my previous remarks. Farmed shellfish, we already
talked about why that’s good. Local, the American fisheries
are generally better managed than the foreign fisheries. We import 90% of our seafood. So if you’re eating local,
or domestic might be more precise, you’re likely eating
a fish that’s better managed than something coming from
the rest of the world. So that’s the reason
to do that. And then shrimp, which
is loved by America– and I love shrimp– effectively, there’s no way to
feel good about eating shrimp. If you’re eating wild shrimp,
you’re eating something that has enormous amounts
of bycatch. Shrimp are appropriately
named. They’re very small. So that means to catch shrimp,
you have to have a small mesh net. You catch three, four, five
pounds of other creatures along with each pound
of shrimp. I was on “CBS This Morning” the
week before last, the day we launched the book, and the
actor who played Bubba Gump was following me. You will all recognize
who that was. I wanted to make this joke on
TV, but I did not have time with Tom Hanks to
make that joke. So if you’re eating wild shrimp,
you have to picture that you’re also eating three
or four or five pounds of other things, including, like,
turtles that got caught in the shrimp nets. If you’re eating farmed
shrimp, you’re eating something that’s imported
typically from the a tropical country, where a coastal
pond was created. A shallow coastal pond was
created, often in a mangrove forest, filled with shrimp,
fed intensively, so intensively packed in there, so
swimming in their own fecal matter that high levels of
pesticides and antibiotics are applied to keep them healthy
until the point when that gets so contaminated that they have
to move to a new place and create a new pond. You can fly over Belize, as I’ve
done, and see these kind of strange zones. And you don’t know
what they are. They’re former fish,
shrimp ponds, unpleasant things to see. The last thing I want to say
about what we could do in the United States of America– and your question is
a very good one– we have an opportunity, because
we import 90% of our seafood, to effect the conduct
of the world’s fleets by our buying practices. And if we would pass laws, that
have now been introduced into both the Senate and the
House, to require that all seafood sold in the United
States is traceable, traceable to when it was caught, where
it was caught, how it was caught, we would make it very
hard for illegally-sourced fish to get into our
supply chain. And illegally-sourced fish are
on the order of 10% to 25% of the world’s catch, fish caught
out of quota, in the wrong place, and so forth. If we had a strict traceability
regime, those illegal fishermen would have
trouble documenting that their catches were legal. And they wouldn’t be able
to sell them to us. And they would have a
self-interested reason, because they want to sell us,
to fix their practices. Senator Begich from Alaska has
introduced a bill in the Senate to do this. Congressman Markey has
introduced a bill in the House to do this. They’re called the
Safe Seafood Act. We would like you to contact
your representatives or your senators and encourage them to
cosponsor these bills to get them through Congress. We’ve done more seafood testing
than any organization in the country. We’ve tested 1,200– more than the government– 1,200 different samples of
seafood around the country and discovered that, on average,
about 33% of the time, what you bought is not what
they told you it was. Now, sometimes, it’s a
small mislabeling. Sometimes, it’s a
big mislabeling. But there’s a lot of seafood
fraud going on. So the Safe Seafood Fraud Act
would also bring you benefits as a consumer. It would stop you from being
defrauded while also delivering conservation benefits
to the planet. So, that’s one of Oceana’s
big priorities this year. And we’d love to have
your help on that. But our fishery management
rules are in good shape. Yes? AUDIENCE: Could you talk through
an example where a fishery collapsed, good
practices were put in place, and it actually recovered? ANDY SHARPLESS: When I started
developing the argument that is in the book, I would review
this with Oceana’s board of directors, the argument,
as we were starting to figure it out. And they said just what
you said, right here. They said, Andy, could you give
us some case examples of fishery rebounds, please? And a scientist on our board,
who’s a very distinguished scientist, said, you’re
asking Andy to prove that gravity works. And they said, yes, we are. Please prove that
gravity works. So I went out, and I got some
case examples of fisheries that had been mismanaged
and wrecked and had then rebounded. And there are many of them. It’s not hard to find them. There are four of them in this
little pamphlet which we will hand out to you. And I can show you these
charts here. We famously call these charts
u-charts, because they go down, and then they go up. And in each of these cases,
which I can call out to you, there was, like, a 40 or
a 50-year period of mismanagement. The first one here is the
Norwegian Arctic cod, which was badly managed by
the Norwegians. They drove the spawning stock
way down and kept it down by mismanagement. And in the 1980s, they imposed
a discard band. And it rebounded in
5 or 10 years. This next example is the New
Zealand rock lobster. From ’65 until about ’90, badly
mismanaged, catch limits imposed in the ’90s. It comes back. This next example is the
Norwegian herring. Fishing limits put on. After bad litmus mismanagement,
it recovered. And this is US haddock, which
was really, astoundingly mismanaged by the United
States, punished badly. And in about 1995– 1995, remember that– President Clinton and Senator
Stevens get together in the days when bipartisan action
was possible. And that fishery rebounded. So 5 or 10 years, in
the scientific data, evidence of recovery. I love that question. I mean, this is not a
theoretical exercise. This is in the data over
and over again. Now, there is of famous
counterexample. Do you know what the famous
counterexample is? AUDIENCE: Canadian Cod, maybe? ANDY SHARPLESS: Yes,
well done. The famous counterexample is
Canadian cod, which were badly overfished by the Canadians and
by some European fleets. The Canadians finally imposed
tight restrictions on it. And it has not come back. And it is the classic nightmare
scenario of a fishery that was once
hugely important. Here’s huge cod that were five
or six feet long, so important to the early development of
the United States that we named a part of our country
after them, Cape Cod. That fishery has
not come back. Nobody really knows why. You could speculate that some
other creature came into the ecological niche that the cod
occupied, and now the cod can’t get going again. But that is the exception. It’s like what I was talking
about, tunas and swordfish, earlier. Please don’t be misled by the
exceptions to the rules. Happily, this is an
exception, because it’s a nightmare story. AUDIENCE: Was this an
exception because they waited too long? ANDY SHARPLESS: Nobody really
knows why it’s an exception. It could be that they
waited too long. But if you look at these other
examples that I held up here, some of them are badly
mismanaged over the course of 20, 30 years and, yet, they
were able to recover. It’s probably that there was
some other phenomenon that people don’t fully understand,
like I said, that something moved in there and was
able to take root. It’s also possible that the
heavy trawling in that area, bottom trawling, had a really
serious effect. Nobody really knows, because
it is a unusual counterexample. AUDIENCE: So in your discussion
here, you’re talking about trying to feed
the global population. And you talk a lot about fish. Is there a role for things like
algae and kelp and things like that in your vision of
feeding the global population over the next century? ANDY SHARPLESS: Short
answer would be yes. But the long answer is, I don’t
know a lot about that. I mean, from what little I know,
I think that they can be sustainably and usefully, you
know, managed in a way that’s sensible and doesn’t create
huge problems. You may know more about
that than I do. But we have to learn to like to
eat algae, which I expect would be a difficult
challenge. I don’t know about kelp. So, short answer is yes. I would be an optimist
on that. But that’s not based on an
informed study of it. So the question is– just
for the microphone– can I talk more about what
people should be eating and changes that are
required there? So you anticipated the answer. Eat lower down on the food
chain where you can, so smaller species fish,
anchovies, sardines would be great. I talked about farmed mussels,
oysters, clams. Eat all those you can. Don’t eat big predator
fish, if you want a simple rule of thumb. If you really have an appetite
for information, you can use these food guides. And the Monterey Aquarium and
the Blue Ocean Institute have food guides which are
quite helpful. There’s applications you can
get for your remote device that’ll tell you, in the grocery
store, what to choose. Many people don’t have
the patience or the time to do that. But if you’re one of them,
more power to you. That’s a good thing to do. Part of the idea of “The Perfect
Protein” was to give people these simple rules that
they could kind of apply in a busy life, like eat small
fish, eat wild fish, eat farmed shellfish if you can. Don’t eat shrimp. We have 21 recipes in the book
that show you how to prepare something you might not
think would be tasty. And I encourage you to try them
and learn, I hope, that you like these things that
you might not have thought you’d like. Sardines might be an
example of that. Most people might not think
a sardine would be tasty, but it can be. When I was on this show– I mentioned “CBS
This Morning”– Eric Ripert, the famous chef of
Le Bernardin, which is one of the most prestigious French
restaurants in the country, Manhattan, was on with me. He has a recipe in the book. And he was the poissonnier at
the Tour D’Argent, maybe the most famous French restaurant
in the world, in Paris. He knows a hell of
a lot about fish. And I said to him, Eric, I
cooked your recipe on Friday night, which I had done. I had gotten the clams and
andouille sausage recipe out of it, which is also
served today. And I prepared it at home,
much to my wife’s and my daughters’ amazement, because
I’m really not very much of a cooking kind of guy. And except for the fact that I
hadn’t really scrubbed the clams to get all of the sand
out, it was quite good. So the last thing on this point
is we live at a moment in time when there’s a lot
of foodieism abroad. Chefs have become kind
of heroes of the day. They are celebrities
on television. People are interested
in food preparation. The is an ongoing incentive in
that world for marketing innovation, for bringing to
people tastes that they haven’t had before, things
to eat that they haven’t tried before. And so, I think we have the wind
at our back in terms of encouraging people to eat lower
down on the food chain. Because the food industry
likes to innovate. So, when we come to them and
say, try out some of these unusual creatures that
are listed in the book, they say, great. And so we have 21 famous
chefs, each offering a different recipe for things
that you might not have thought would taste good. AUDIENCE: This is sort of a
personal challenge that I feel might get reflected globally. So, I’ll tell my friends, hey,
bluefin tuna, you should really not be eating that,
you know, running out, endangered, etc. And their response is, yeah, so
it’s all going to be gone. We better eat it while it’s
still here, right? And I hear rumors about
overfished quotas, in, say, Asia, where you have fishermen
stockpiling so that they can sell it when it’s not available,
literally, anymore. How do we deal with that? ANDY SHARPLESS: The problem of
the Atlantic bluefin tuna is a counterexample to everything
I’ve said here. It’s a top predator fish. It has the misjudgment to swim
across national boundaries all of the time. Maybe we could teach it, you
know, to, like, live its life inside national territory. It is a high-value fish. And financial incentives to go
catch it and sell it, as you mentioned in your question,
are huge. Individual, high-quality
specimens can sell for the cost of a house, not a house
in Palo Alto, but a house somewhere else. They are very vulnerable. They are in a tough spot. And I’m worried about them. But I don’t want the exception,
which they are– on a basis of the oceans by
weight, the oceans as a source of animal protein by weight–
they are an exception to the general rule. And so the problems that we see
with Atlantic bluefin tuna management and overfishing do
not apply to most species. And so, be optimistic about
so many other species. Meanwhile, if you want to help
on Atlantic bluefin tuna, there is an international
committee that has all of the weaknesses that you suspect it
would have, called ICCAT– the acronym, which sets
the quotas for Atlantic bluefin catches– the International Commission
for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna. The United States is a member of
that body, along with about more than 20 other countries. And they tend to do
a terrible job. They tend to have lowest common
denominator outcomes that they don’t vigorously
enforce. And they have allowed this
fishery to be badly managed. And the Atlantic is at about
a 15% of an unfished ocean number in terms of population
of Atlantic bluefin. So they’re at a dangerous
point. I hope they come back. We, like many other conservation
groups, press the governments who are on ICCAT
to lower quotas, to allow rebuilding. If you’re a responsible
person, you should be contacting your government and
getting them to do that. And I hope they will. But that’s a creature
in a tough spot. Jennifer is suggesting that the
US could ban imports of Atlantic bluefin tuna
as a contribution. There might be trade, WTO,
implications to that decision that would get the
United States in trouble with the WTO. I don’t know. There would be complexity
there. AUDIENCE: We’d picket. ANDY SHARPLESS: Yeah. Since that’s a globally-eaten
commodity, that might not be enough, even that, because the
quota that we didn’t take would go somewhere else. Thank you very much for
your attention. I hope this was interesting. And I hope you’ll buy my book,
our book, promote it. We would like lots of people
to get the message. And I hope you’ll enjoy some
of the recipes in the back. Thanks very much. [APPLAUSE]