Of all the multitudinous living organisms in the phylum cordata, none are quite so fucked as fish. Scientifically, the entire species is toast for several reasons. The sad thing is, this didn’t have to be the way it is.
For millennia, fish kicked the shit out of everything. They had armor and were faster than anyone around the reef. They were basically massive sets of teeth with fins and tails, and they dominated the food chain. Evolution hadn’t pushed them onto land. Water was all there was. (see: ocean – most of the earth)
Darwin chalks it up to evolution, and he did a great deal of research so I’m not about to argue with him and you shouldn’t either unless you spend a decade or so on a boat in the Galapagos with an eyeglass up a finche’s ass.
Overall, the idea of evolution lacks a certain irony as to just why fish have it so dogshit awful today.
According to my theory, the oceans got so stupid crowded with wicked streamlined predators that the smaller guys, the dweebie fish, the nerds, and the fat jellies, and the powerless minnows were like, this is bullshit, we’re outta here.
So they made their way onto land to try and get some fresh fruit, a banana, a kiwi, or some leafy greens– they had giant Paleozoic kale back then, I believe– and basically not be eaten by that giant terrifying prehistoric mega-shark with armor that they have on the top floor of the Museum of Natural History.
So hundreds and thousands of years zip by (is it summer already?) and before you know it, evolution starts to do its thing, and suddenly there is an entire country of Japanese people on one little island in the Pacific who are eating sushi for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They love it so much it’s all they eat.
They become so good at making and marketing it that soon the whole wide world loves eating it. Sushi bars pop up in Capetown and Nova Scotia and Azerbaijan and in landlocked Dayton, Ohio.
Sushi is such a scrumptious fucking delicious phenomenon, especially if you’ve just smoked pot, or had a bunch of good saki, that for many it begins transmogrifying into an addiction. Even though it’s expensive, the craving leads addicts to have to have it several times a week. It’s such a guaranteed people pleasure, that Duane Reade begins to sell several variations of it which resembling tasteless plastic. And people stuff it in baskets right along with their three pack of long extra strength deodorant. (See: Duane Reade – inedible pre-made sushi).
Hordes attend Sushi Anonymous meetings weekly, a majority of the members slip and have to give their chips back. Sushi addiction literature begins to sell in the millions.
But still, even with the invention of Japanese people, and the sushi they devour, for many years, fish were in no real danger. Just read Ernie Hemingway’s The Old Fellow and the Ocean, and that other guy’a book about the big white whale and some guy called Ishmichael (tough name to be a kid with, no?), and you know that for a long time, sea creatures were pretty much solidly kicking our asses.
If we did manage to hook them, and it was years before we really mastered that– early hooks from the Paleozotical period had no barbs, and the fish would just slide off– it was only after a long as hell fight to reel them in that we ate them with a nice lemon butter sauce, and a few dill capers. In short, it was no easy chore.
The long fights, the ones that lasted hours, the ones where your arms felt rubberized afterwards, really began pissing fish the fuck off. Many began to hold grudges. The larger specials, the whale and sharks and marlin, began holding vendettas.
It was around this time when the Lochness monster began to pop her head up (yes, she’s a girl). She wanted to protect the lake. She was seriously concerned about her food supply.
This is also right around the time the USS Indianapolis sank and Mako sharks had a giant aquatic dinner party serving an all you can eat buffet of fresh water treading soldiers, jumped from a ship. They never wrapped them in seaweed, or dipped them in over wasabi’d soy sauce, though. No need. Human flesh tasted better with fresh, salty seawater. Just like shooting a nice malpec oyster. Sharks are well known for the pleasure they take in a pure gastronomic experience.
Today, the scales have tilted, and yes, this pun was intended, if you even if you missed it. Now, we use sophisticated computers that track fish migrations with magnetic images. We use polo field size fishnets to swoop them by the millions, and traps that leave no room escape from sheer quantity, just talk to an Alaskan King crab, if you can. (see: how to talk to a crab in Alaska.)
The latest unfair technology uses sonar blasts to direct entire schools of fish directly into our mouths. A court case could halt the trend by the year 2020, when there are seventeen fish left in the ocean. They’ll be covered in crude courtesy of British Petroleum. Let’s not even open that can of oil.
But fish are fucked, even where technology doesn’t give humankind an edge. Take salmon. These doomed creatures swim upstream, every year, into the clutches of eager bears. The bears know precisely where they’ll be because salmon never change their route.
The ones that do make it through are caught by beer drinking lake fisherman with bad teeth.
Those lucky enough to make it to a place where they can lay eggs die moments afterward, erasing any possibility of passing the oh-so-valuable information down to their little salmonettes not to swim back up the same stream in a year, where the bears and fisherman are waiting to catch you, smoke you, and serve you on pumpernickel bagels with cream cheese and red onion.
And so the cycle repeats. At least until we fish the oceans dry, which could be next Thursday, and start to make sushi with beef and chicken. There are a few restaurants already doing it. They are preparing for the inevitable future and I for one will not be a part of it. From here on out, I am no longer eating fish. I already don’t eat animals, so that leaves vegetables.
But I am newly and similarly troubled with that too, now. If one accepts the premise that we owe animals a moral obligations (see: Food Inc.), then a strong position for not eating plants can be taken as well.
Plants may not be conscious (a fetus isn’t) but clearly they do have a will to life, just like we do. A plant will do what it has to to survive. It will fight off enemies, trope leaves towards the light, and stretch it roots to find water, an element filling 61 percent of our own bodies. To yank if from the ground and chop it up and suffocate it in creamy dressing, even a light balsamic vinegar, is just plain cruel.
So it looks like my diet is going to consist of just one thing: pure mountain water. That’s it. That, and few slices of Sicilian pepperoni pizza with peppers and anchovies, and I’m done.