According to a recent article from Komo News, some of Seattle’s most popular restaurants are ditching chinook (king) salmon in an effort to help save critically endangered orcas.
Chinook will not be served at Vine and Spoon or Alchemy in West Seattle. The restaurant owners joined others in taking a stand after a concerned customer brought up the plight of the orcas and shared images of a mother orca grieving her dead calf and another orca struggling to survive.
Matt Mead, marketing director for Vine and Spoon, said:
The plight of the orcas right now is so tragic so important to maintain their food resource it was very simple and no-brainer to take off the king salmon from our menu to help our environment.
Declared endangered in 2005, the Southern Resident orca population has seen little recovery. In fact, more than two-thirds of these whales’ pregnancies fail, and a recent study suggests the orcas are starving because of human activity.
Overfishing of chinook salmon is believed to be the main cause of the orca population’s decline. Chinook salmon, who compose roughly 80 percent of the whales’ diet, are a critically endangered species, and overfishing is the primary reason. Popular wild-caught fish, chinook salmon were added to the list of overfished species in 2015.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published a report in 2013 warning about the impact of salmon fishing on Southern Resident orca populations. Although the report expresses uncertainty about the long-term effects, it states that ending or reducing salmon fishing would have an immediate positive impact.
Our oceans are extremely complex ecosystems, so when one species declines, others suffer. For instance, Atlantic puffins on the Shetland Islands depend on sand eels to survive. Once sand eels were overfished, puffin numbers dramatically declined. When herring is overfished, cod populations fall. Many fish species and their predators are now endangered or face extinction because of overfishing.
The best thing we can do for all marine animals is to refuse to support an industry that disrupts the balance of nature’s ecosystems and puts species at risk for extinction.
But eating seafood doesn’t just hurt orcas and other “cute” marine mammals many people value; it’s also unspeakably cruel for the innocent fish killed for food. Fish are similar to dogs and cats in their experience of pain and pleasure.
In 2011 Mercy For Animals conducted an undercover investigation at a fish slaughter facility and exposed fish being skinned alive. They thrashed and fought to escape the workers’ knives. As the fish gasped for oxygen, workers ripped off their skin with pliers.
Sounds horrifying, right? See for yourself.
Remember, the best way to protect fish and other marine animals is to leave them off your plate. Learn more about switching to a humane plant-based diet to prevent cruelty to all animals used for food. Then check out Gardein’s fishless filets and crabless cakes, and click here for compassionate sea-inspired recipes.