Sunday, November 26, 2006

Fishers of Fishermen

Sometimes the world can be transformed just by one person making an impression on another. Last June, seeing a documentary film and having dinner with Jean-Michael Cousteau and a National Geographic marine biologist, President Bush became so inspired that he took action to create the world's largest marine preserve, a new national monument comprising 84 million acres along the northwestern Hawaiian islands. Earlier this year, Walmart announced a commitment to sustainable fisheries, pledging to switch to wild-caught seafood from certified sustainable fisheries. Walmart was making a business decision based on a long-term view of sustainable supply, but the input and impetus for the decision came from a personal relationship developed between Peter Seligmann, co-founder of Conservation International, and Walmart Chairman Rob Walton over the course of scuba diving vacations.

Of course not everyone can take in a film with the President of the United States, or go scuba diving with the Chairman of Walmart. But the most successful sustainable fisheries program, that in Alaska, has only come about because fishermen at an individual level have become convinced that their best future lays in cooperating in a sustainable stewardship program. We as consumers can encourage this type of transformation by being responsible consumers, and buying and eating only sustainably harvested fish. And by encouraging our friends to do the same. Learn more here.

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