Parashat Shemini

An Abundance of Fish

We do not have the right to drive fish to extinction.

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Wild-caught Alaskan salmon receive a "best" rating and are eco-certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. Other kosher fish species receiving either a "best" or "good" rating include: tilapia farmed in either the U.S. or Central America, yellowfin tuna caught in the U.S. by either troll or pole, and wild-caught lingcod from either the U.S. or Canada. As of January 2007, 22 fisheries around the world have been independently assessed and certified as meeting the MSC standard.

Our dominion over creatures in the waters does not also give us the right to cause their extinction. The world and all its inhabitants belong to God. Our unsustainable fishing practices have led to the current state of the world's fisheries. That is, our actions are coming at the expense of the fish's fulfillment of pru u'revu, working against the blessing that God gave them. 

The opportunity before us is to buy fish sustainably, fulfilling the divine mandate for human stewardship of God's planet--"l'ovdah u'lshomra"--to use it and to protect it.

Suggested Action Items:

1. Research the fish you buy to see if it is sustainable.

2. Make a commitment to buy sustainable fish.

3. Visit two great websites, here and here.

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Candace Nachman is a biologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Office of Protected Resources, Permits, Conservation and Education Division. She is the president of the Green Group at Congregation Kesher Israel in Georgetown, Washington, DC.