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June 27, 2008

An Everyday Fish Market

BY: Keith Ellenbogen


©OCEANA/ Keith Ellenbogen


Throughout the world every day in every city there is a fish market just like this one — that we documented in Malta Harbor at 3:30 in the morning — that brings fresh fish to your home and restaurant each day of the week 365 days a year.

No tuna are sold here — for these fish are much too valuable. Rather the tuna are processed on boats at sea and shipped directly to Japan or to your local sushi restaurant.

But what was sold here was extremely small swordfish and what I would call baby sharks. As I walked through the market photographing the now lifeless small swordfish tossed on the floor I wondered what Ernest Hemmingway would have thought of his once great “macho” fish — that challenged man — now reduced to this embarrassingly small size. At that moment, I imagined if this were the size of all the swordfish or marlin that the ‘old man’ caught in “The Old Man and The Sea” he would have recognized it was not worthy of keeping and rather tossed it back for future generation.

I feel there is still time to save fish populations but we must work together to change our eating habits and choose sustainable fish for consumption — and allow populations to rebuild — thus maintaining a sustainable future.

Departing Malta

Escorted by a pilot boat this morning we departed Malta harbor in search of illegal driftnet fishing boats around Sicily.