Well before he killed--then wore--a bear on-screen, Leonardo DiCaprio has been fighting for the rights of animals (like tigers and elephants) and the environment for decades. This is evidenced by his efforts through his namesake foundation, production of the climate change documentary “Before the Flood,” and passionate tweets. And now he’s invested in sustainable food company, Love The Wild, which sells frozen seafood meals produced through aquaculture.
According to the company, about half of all seafood for human consumption is produced through aquaculture, which is the breeding and harvesting of fish and seafood in controlled water environments. When executed properly, aquaculture farming plays an imperative role in protecting our oceans. For instance, the practice doesn’t harm other animals (like adorable dolphins and turtles crucial to our ocean ecosystems, and the less adorable sharks) with nets and fishing lines that result in millions--yes millions--of unnecessary bycatch deaths every year.
Considering his foundation donated $3 million to combat overfishing, the actor’s support of Love The Wild is none too surprising, as aquaculture helps relieve pressure on dwindling wild fish stocks.
Due to overfishing, certain species of marine animals may be on the verge of extinction, and experts worry there will not be enough fish to feed the world in about 30 years, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). In fact, 53 percent of the world’s fisheries are completely exploited, and 32 percent are overexploited, depleted, or recovering from it. Illegal fishing also contributes to the exhaustion of fish supply.
"The exploitation of our oceans has left many marine ecosystems on the brink of total collapse, which is hurting our ability to harvest our seas as a reliable food source as we have for thousands of years," DiCaprio said in a statement announcing his investment.
The Problems With Fishing
On top of exploitation, extinction, and bycatch, destructive fishing practices such as trawling (in essence, using nets) on ocean floors cause major harm to animals, particularly coral. Then there's ocean acidification due to the massive carbon dioxide emissions, with the seas absorbing an increasing amount of greenhouse gas. The acidification damages the lives of animals like oysters, shellfish, and creatures that are main sources of sustenance for fish that humans rely on, like salmon.
“Estimates show the earth’s population approaching nine billion by 2050, putting tremendous pressure on our natural food resources," says DiCaprio. "Seafood is a primary source of protein for nearly a billion people, but climate change, acidification, and overfishing are putting increased pressure on our oceans’ natural stability.”
Love The Wild offers accurately labeled seafood free from mercury, antibiotics, hormones, and other chemicals. The food is loaded with the same nutrients—namely omega-3 fatty acids—as their wild-caught counterparts. Of course, aquaculture isn’t perfect, but the company only sources from farms rated “Best Choice” by watchdog group Seafood Watch. The "Best Choice" rating means the food is caught or farmed in ways that cause little harm to habitats or other wildlife, while "Good Alternatives" means you should be concerned about how the fish is farmed and "Avoid" means you shouldn't buy it, period.
A single Love The Wild box gives you fish in parchment paper along with sauce cubes you can melt inside the oven. Products include Red Trout With Salsa Verde, Barramundi With Mango Sriracha Chutney, and Catfish in Cajun Crème. Sounds delicious and, from a home chef’s perspective, convenient. But more importantly, these easy-to-make dinners are a small way to help combat the deteriorating oceans and their inhabitants.
As Leo tweeted, "If we don’t protect them, who will?"
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