You should probably listen to the episode itself before you continue.
So now some supplementary material for this episode. I note in the episode the still common practice of tuna hunting using hand nets. Be warned, it is pretty brutal, but fascinating nonetheless. This is a traditional practice that has been going on for thousands of years according to some sources.
Per this article, things are particularly dire in the Mediterranean, and tuna are one of the many threatened species. Hunts like those above may not continue for long unless action is taken. It may seem odd to be alarmed about this at a time when migrant children are drowning in the same waters, but the same factors that created the migrant crisis are feeding the environmental crisis in the Mediterranean and the two situations are at least economically related. During periods of political instability there is no government to enforce fishery management on locals or foreigners, and inevitably industrial trawlers from outside take advantage of the situation and plunder local natural resources. Given that fishing is a low skill, high wage job, it is likely that this ecological piracy by developed nations contributes to the economic instability in these nations creating a self reinforcing cycle. It is hard to tease out these things as they happen but there is substantial evidence now that this ecological piracy directly contributed to the real actual piracy situation in Somalia. The local fishermen were left without a livelihood after years of unchecked ecological devastation that included not only over fishing, but also the dumping of toxic waste, and eventually decided to take out their poverty on the foreign ships that they blamed for their situation.
The EU is probably the one organization that could really step in and fix the situation, not least because many of the plunderers are from European home ports. Unfortunately many Southern European nations, particularly Spain but including Italy and Greece, have substantial fishing industries involved in these same industrial practices. During a time period when Northern European states are demanding fiscal restraint from the Southern European states, it is a hard sell to impose restrictions on valuable industries that would, at the very least, limit their output over the short term. Be that as it may, the limits will come, one way or the other.
This is always the part where I tell you what you can do to get involved, but if you have just sat through an episode on thrust faulting you are not a dumb person. You have heard this before. Write to politicians, buy sustainable seafood. I recognize, however, that this is easier said than done. Here in Rhode Island it is pretty easy for us to get fresh, sustainable seafood just by buying local. The local fisheries all use practices that are at least moderately sustainable, so as long as you have a reliable fish monger it is easy enough. I recognize that this is not a universal phenomenon my friends so I am here to try to make sustainable seafood purchasing easier.
The first thing is Seafood Watch Dot Org. It is a great resource that tracks how every fishery manages its seafood stocks and can make a judgement for you as to how sustainable it is so you don't have to. This is usually not enough on its own, however, because the USA has absurdly terrible labeling laws for seafood. If you look at Black Sea Bass, for example, you are likely to find one of four or five different species, each of which can also be sold under a variety of other names. Until recently, food suppliers were often not even sure where the seafood was caught, although a recent act of congress is changing that particular problem. As a result, I use Wikipedia in combination with Seafood Watch when making purchasing decisions of an ickthioid nature. Using the place of origin of the fish lets me understand what actual species it is likely to be and then understand what the practices of the fishery in question are.
If that is all too complicated I have two more recommendations. First, buy low on the food chain. Such animals require less food to come to market, breed faster, and are less susceptible to environmental pollution. How do you know where a given fish is on the food chain? well as a rule of thumb, shellfish or small fish are on the bottom, and any white flesh fished of a medium size is also going to be pretty low. So flounder, tilapia, trout, and catfish. Many of these species are farmed, which can create its own problems, but those problems only usually exist when farming is done for species like salmon and swordfish (which are very high on the food chain). In many situations farming can be much more ecologically responsible than high sea fishing. In Africa tilapia is often farmed simply by digging a hole in the ground, filling it with agricultural detritus like corn husks, and then adding fish eggs and water. Once the fish are market size they are collected and killed, and then the fish droppings are dug up to use as crop fertilizer. American tilapia production can be more problematic due to the insistence of American farmers of using corn as feed, and since corn has the nutritional value of cardboard they then have to add protein supplements to the diet which is this whole other thing...look trout tastes better anyway just buy trout.
My final piece of wisdom for you is to find a trustworthy fishmonger. My supermarket happens to have a great fish counter, many of my supermarkets past did not. I have been sold my share of questionable product. So be vigilant! If necessary find one outside of the megamart.
This may not be something anyone else cares about much, but here in Rhode Island we take seafood very, very seriously. It is still local lore how one steam trawler cleared out the entire fishing industry in the salt pond in six days of operation. Things in the Mediterranean have gotten alarming, and given the subject of today's episode I felt the need to say something. I appreciate it if anyone got this far in the entry, as a reward, and as promised, me dressed as Julia Child (I can't find one with the wig).