There are a number of factors that go into my thinking regarding how to advocate, and why not to focus on fish with our first-line advocacy. Here are some of the factors, in abbreviated form:
1. Some people focus entirely on numbers, and not the reality behind the numbers. But I don't care about numbers, I care about suffering.
2. Many if not most "fish" that are killed (just based on numbers) aren't sentient / don't suffer (clams, oysters, shrimp).
3. Most vertebrate fish that are killed are wild fish who would have suffered greatly in their "natural" death if they hadn't been caught. A "natural" death of predation, disease, or starvation, may well be worse than a death by suffocation or decapitation. So catching a wild fish doesn't clearly increase the suffering in the world.
4. Only farmed vertebrate fish (e.g., catfish) might be adding suffering to the world by choices to eat them.
|Chart by Ben Davidow.|
5. Our most likely audience for dietary change (youngish women) doesn't eat much fish. Ellen says she never saw her high school or college friends eating fish. Always chickens.
The numbers and the suffering are only two of the three factors we must consider. Tractability is also key: will our advocacy actually have an impact?
However, when advocates start saying things like "people eat 500 fish/ year," we greatly distract from where our efforts can actually have the biggest impact on actually reducing suffering.
And, of course, every time we add on something else to our ask, we undermine the point of having a single, reasonable, sustainable impactful action.
As always, my approach isn't based on what is "right" or "consistent" or "popular." I try to shape my advocacy such that it can have the biggest possible impact in the real world.