I think it's easy to feel sometimes like one person doesn't make much of a difference. We spend time and energy sharing our passions, not knowing what type of return we are going to get. Will anything change as a result of our efforts?
Recently, I noticed through Instagram that a local Pittsburgh restaurant - an icon, really - was featuring bluefin tuna as a special.
Bluefin tuna are apex predators - top of the food chain. They help maintain balance in the ecosystem and are amazing, fierce and fast creatures. And a single fish can bring in more than $1 million at market, its flesh highly prized, especially for sushi and sashimi. So it's vastly overfished and considered an endangered species by the World Wildlife Federation as well as the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program.
Not only are bluefin endangered, but the way they are caught includes high levels of bycatch, so it contributes even more to declining populations of other fish.
So I politely contacted the restaurant about their choice of entree. I stated first how much I loved their restaurant and that's true. I then briefly pointed out bluefin's status as endangered, with links to back up my claims. I requested that they take bluefin off their menu permanently, since their menu is already so delicious and strong. I also mentioned, as the ad above suggests, that if we looked at seafood like we look at other endangered mammals, we wouldn't eat them. Customers would balk at panda on a menu, but bluefin is still considered a delicacy.
And you know what? They responded. They said they were experimenting with potential summer specials, but in the light of this information, they wouldn't serve bluefin tuna again on their menu. And they thanked me for my feedback and encouraged me to visit the restaurant again. I sure will.
So it's a small victory - one restaurant in one state in one country not serving bluefin tuna. But it's something, and it was as easy as sending an email. These little acts of activism can make a difference. And it's a win for them, too, because they're made me a customer for life by showing exemplary customer service and caring about something other than the bottom line.
For more info on responsible seafood practices, check out these posts and resources.
Image: WWF France ad campaign