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March 24, 2015

CEO Note: Small Fish Can Make a Big Difference

Leading chefs supporting Oceana's campaign, Save the Ocean Feed the World. San Sebastian, Guipúzcoa, Basque Country, Spain. March 2015.
EUO © OCEANA Pablo Almansa


Eating small fish can be a big deal. This week twenty of the world’s top chefs made a commitment to Oceana’s efforts aimed at saving the ocean and feeding the world by pledging to serve small fish like anchovies, sardines, and herring on World Oceans Day on June 8, 2015. Right now millions of tons of these forage fish are ground up or ‘reduced’ to create fishmeal and fish oil which are used as feed for farmed salmon, pigs, chicken, and other livestock. If we can encourage people to eat these fish rather than feeding them to animals, we can free up a huge source of first quality protein and nutrients for human consumption.  Eating more small fish means we put less pressure on the planet in the form of demand for fresh water, use of arable land, and emission of climate changing gases that result from farming. I’d like to share with you an editorial I wrote with Ted Danson for the Huffington Post about this issue, found here.

Oceana Convenes World’s Top Chefs for Commitment to Serving More Sustainable Seafood

By Andy Sharpless and Ted Danson
Today twenty of the world’s most acclaimed chefs publicly announced their commitment to Oceana’s global campaign, Save the Oceans: Feed the World.  Though it sounds counterintuitive, protecting our oceans also means protecting our planet’s food security: by encouraging wild fish species to flourish we are supporting a naturally occurring source of millions of tons of animal protein. Eating wild seafood can contribute to solving one of our most pressing problems, the fact that one billion people wake up hungry every day. Even so, what does fine dining have to do with solving world hunger?

One of the central issues in overfishing is the practice of ‘reducing’ smaller fish species like anchovies and sardines to create feed for livestock. Instead of eating these tons of heart-healthy protein ourselves, we feed these forage fish to other animals and introduce enormous waste into the system.  For example, Peruvian anchovies account on average for 8 to 10% of all fish – by weight – caught in the oceans. Yet over 95% of all of these anchovies are reduced into fishmeal and fish oil. Our human predecessors (as recently as 50 years ago) ate these small fish in large numbers, and now the world’s top chefs want us to reintroduce them to our menus and our regular diets once more.

Chefs Andoni Luiz Aduriz of Mugaritz and Joan Roca of El Celler de Can Roca traveled to the renowned Basque Culinary Centre in San Sebastian, Spain to co-host fellow chefs Ferran Adrià (elBulli Foundation, Spain); Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana, Italy); Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park, USA); Ashley Palmer-Watts (Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, UK); Alex Atala (D.O.M., Brazil); Grant Achatz (Alinea, USA); Brett Graham (The Ledbury, UK); Joachim Wissler (Vendôme, Germany) and seven more of the world’s best to discuss how our oceans can help address the challenge of a hungry planet. As a part of that, these leading chefs have made a commitment to serving forage fish – like sardines, anchovies, and herring – at their restaurants on World Oceans Day, June 8 2015, encouraging diners to seek out and enjoy this delicious, healthy seafood and to support Oceana’s campaign to save the oceans and feed the world.  You can have an impact too: choosing small fish can make a big difference.

I hope you will join these Michelin rated chefs by preparing delicious meals made from forage fish in your own home—you can find them canned in every supermarket—or by choosing small fish from the menu in restaurants when available, as we hope will increasingly be the case as people recognize their value and flavor. In doing so, you are taking a step towards a healthier you and a healthier ocean. If more people follow suit, it’s a big step towards providing more food for the planet and rebuilding the world’s fisheries.

For the oceans,

Andy Sharpless

Chief Executive Officer