We are eating the oceans: our message in the Milan metro

Claudio Pomo
Development manager

For World Oceans Day, we launched a high-impact campaign that calls for people to make responsible food choices.

June 8th is World Oceans Day, and this year we decided to celebrate it for a whole week (7-13 June). Marine ecosystems are at risk of collapse not only because of pollution and plastic – which will soon outweigh the volume of fish – but above all because of industrial fishing and aquaculture.   

Our campaign began on June 5th and lasted a whole week, adorning the entire Cairoli metro line in Milan (just a stone’s throw from Castello Sforzesco) with billboards asking the public: ‘Are you afraid of a lifeless ocean?’, and stating what is becoming increasingly evident: ‘We are eating the oceans.’ 

In Piazza Cairoli, our volunteers then distributed a fictitious newspaper dated 2051 and entitled Il Corriere dal futuro. On the first page, the title reads: “Time’s up: the oceans are dead – we were warned back in 2021.” The message is addressed to us, here in 2021 and still able to change the destiny of the planet.

By means of “The Courier of the Future”, we sounded the alarm about the future of the oceans.
© Essere Animali with Francesco Pistilli

Fish are disappearing from the oceans

The oceans have never been in such serious danger: intensive fishing is literally draining the seas, leading to the extinction of one species after another. According to academics, 1414 species of fish are at risk of disappearing and many of these are commonly consumed in Italy: cod, sardine, eel, anchovy, bluefin tuna, swordfish, ray and dogfish.

Intensive fishing has wiped out 90% of predatory fish and kills 30,000 sharks every hour. Pollution caused by the presence of plastic, such as nets and fishing lines, also kills 300,000 dolphins, whales and porpoises every year.

poster nella metro Cairoli di Milano
If we do not reverse the trend through our consumption, the ocean will become a watery desert.
© Essere Animali with Francesco Pistilli

Fish consumption in Italy is unsustainable

Fish consumption per capita in Italy is much higher than the European average (31 kg compared to 24 kg in the EU), and many believe that the use of aquaculture is the only solution to the problem. In fact, the most frequently consumed species in Italy – sea bream, sea bass and salmon – come from intensive fish farms

However, aquaculture is by no means an alternative to industrial fishing: the feed fed on fish farms contains meal and fish oil from wild stocks. In short, aquaculture could not exist without industrial fishing.

No less serious is the fact that fish kept on intensive farms are destined for a life of pain and stress, as we have repeatedly documented: they live in situations of overcrowding and poor hygiene, where viruses and parasites proliferate. The mortality rate in the cages is very high and the use of antibiotics is systematic.

corriere da
In 2018, the global fish production from intensive fishing amounted to 96.4 million tons of aquatic animals, while that from aquaculture was 82.1 million.
© Essere Animali with Francesco Pistilli

This is just one of the dark sides of fish production. The seas and oceans are not endless reserves. In order to save the seas and their inhabitants, we need political choices as well as a change in our current eating habits. A lifeless ocean represents a tragic scenario that we can also avoid through truly responsible consumption, prioritising a plant-based diet.