Introducing Xinyi Ni's "My Fantasy Environment: A Narrative Cartography Project"

Seafood and Us

The ocean occupies most of our planet, and there are tens of thousands of marine lives in this mysterious ocean. And in this vast marine life chain, humans have also benefited a lot from it. Different kinds of seafood are abundant in every coastal area, and these seafood have become delicacies on the tables of local people. Located in southern China's coastal region, there is a city called Fuzhou, which is the capital city of Fujian Province and my birthplace. In Fuzhou, seafood is indispensable on my family's table. Fish, shrimp, and shellfish are the most common. The cooking methods are mainly including braised, steamed, and boiled.


There are many delicious local special foods in Fuzhou, and one of the most famous restaurants is Ju -Chun-Yuan. This restaurant's menu is Fuzhou local food, and the most famous dish is the soup called Buddha Jumping the Wall. The dish name's origin is when the smell of this dish spread to Buddhist temples, even the monks could not eat meat, one of the monks could not withstand the temptation, and He jumped out of the temple's walls to try this dish. Therefore, this cuisine has another name called Buddha's Temptation to describe the deliciousness of this cuisine. Buddha Jumps Over the Wall mainly focuses on meat and seafood, including sea cucumber, abalone, and shark fin. That seafood can be said to be high-end seafood, and people are willing to spend a lot of money to buy and taste it.


The medicinal value of sea cucumber is very high. It can lower blood sugar, reduce blood fat, and prevent cardiovascular disease. Thus, people love the sea cucumbers more, and the demand is getting higher and higher, and the Chinese seafood market is also in short supply. As people see the benefits of seafood, overfishing and environmental pollution have affected seafood. People's continuous fishing has led to a sharp decrease in the number of wild sea cucumbers and abalones, so people began to try aquaculture. People built artificial reefs near the coastline, and the shallows gradually became pools of sea cucumbers. Sow young sea cucumbers in seawater-fed ponds. Under such aquaculture, these young sea cucumbers will grow up within a year. These sea cucumbers will enter the market for people to sell, export, become cuisine or become Chinese medicinal materials. Sea cucumbers are beneficial to the ecological environment. They feed on surrounding rocks, sand, and large leaf algae to purify the surrounding water.


However, with the over-exploitation and development of people, coastlines' product has damaged half of China's coastal wetlands and severely damaged the habitat and breeding grounds of migratory birds. There are many chemical factories and oil refineries in the coastal areas. The emissions and pollution of these factories have also seriously affected the surrounding ecological environment and aquaculture. Red tides formed due to water pollution will cause the ocean to change and make the Dead Sea. If individual organisms ingest the toxins secreted by red tide organisms in the food chain, human consumption of these organisms will lead to poisoning and even death in severe cases.


The overfishing of shark fins is seafood subject to environmental and moral controversy, which has seriously affected the ocean's ecological balance. As an essential part of the marine food chain, sharks will suffer severe damage if they are on the verge of extinction. Raising people's awareness is very important. Many TV commercials and promotional films are popularizing science and publicizing the dangers of shark fin fishing. Now, human beings are paying more and more attention to sharks' protection and are doing everything we can to help and maintain the ecological balance. Just like Wild Aid's message said, "When the buying stops, the killing can too."


Across the Pacific Ocean, Seattle, Washington, is my second hometown. Like Fuzhou, where I was born, Seattle is also a coastal city, and their local cuisine also has seafood. There are mainly salmon, geoduck, and oysters. Local people will choose to fry, eat raw, or eat sashimi. The more famous seafood restaurants in Seattle include Ray's, Pike Place Chowder, and Elliott's Oyster House, which are good choices to eat fresh salmon and oysters. Salmon has lived in the waters of Washington State for more than one million years. Salmon is essential in the food culture of Native Americans. Salmon is also Seattle's main export of seafood, which can be said to constitute Seattle's image.


However, with the development of human beings, overfishing, dam construction, and environmental pollution have caused severe damage to habitats and breeding grounds, resulting in a decrease in salmon number. This situation is not only a hazard to fish but also other wild animals. It provides food for bald eagles, killer whales, and grizzly bears, transfers organic energy between the Pacific Ocean, freshwater, and land. Therefore, when the number of salmon drops, the ecological environment does not have enough nutrients to support the environmental balance, which leads to the destruction of the entire environmental balance. As Atlantic Salmon Trust Research Director Ken Whelan said: "It is not just the salmon perse. They are the aquatic canary. They are telling us well in advance what is changing in our environment."


The artificial cultivation of geoduck is by using PVC plastic pipes buried in shallow beaches. Because of these pipes with nets, a new habitat is conducive to sheltering some fish and invertebrates, leading to a reduction in the number of condors and conducive to migratory birds' migration. But the disadvantage is plastic pipes' problem because PVC plastic pipes are not easily degraded in the ocean and form new marine pollution. From the perspective of marine protection, artificial breeding is harmful to the environment.


Oysters are not only food on our table but also an excellent filter feeder. Oysters can filter out pollutants in water very well, and it can absorb carbon dioxide in water to improve water acidification. However, if the artificial aquaculture farm is polluted, humans will seriously affect their health if they eat it. Therefore, the requirement of water quality has become the threshold for oyster farming. However, due to vehicles and industrial chimneys' emission, a large amount of carbon dioxide makes the water quality sour, making many oysters die in their infancy and cannot reproduce.


Fuzhou and Seattle seem to have no connection, but if you look at the two countries, China and the United States, the relationship is significant. 75% of salmon in China is using in the food industry. Because salmon has a high nutritional value, the public cause the demand for salmon in the Chinese market is increasing. Because China's salmon has a taste that is not as good as imported salmon, and the output is insufficient, this has led to China's dependence on imported sources for more than 60% of salmon. In 2019, China imported 136 million Pacific salmon from the United States, and maybe some of these salmon are probably from the Seattle area.


The United States also imports many seafood products from China every year, including imported processed salmon. The United States sends the caught salmon to China for processing. Since the high costs of seafood processing and labor costs in the United States, China has become the best seafood processing choice. When salmon is finishing seafood processing in China, it will be shipped back to the United States for sale. This business model makes processed salmon an imported commodity. It's like a circle in a continuous cycle, helping each other to maintain stability. Any problem with any link will destroy global balance very fast.


Humans are live on land, and most of the time, we may focus more on the ground or human problems. The ocean may be an area that most people have not noticed, but it is closely related to us, just like the seafood in the regional cuisine I introduced. Although we don't live in the sea, our food is on the sea. Overfishing, environmental pollution, and global warming are not only related to animals but also humans. We are also part of the ecosystem on this planet. If the planet's ecological balance is disrupting, then humans cannot escape.


We cannot only see the destruction of biological ecology. We must look at human development from a long-term perspective. Human beings and living things coexist. We must adhere to sustainable development and jointly maintain the stability on which all life depends.




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