FINtastically Disgusting

By on September 4, 2015 in Columns

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When something makes one feel sick to the stomach, that is a sign of an article that needs to be written. After witnessing a short snippet from Smiska Fisk last Tuesday, I was sickened. Not for the reason that it was disgusting, as in yucky, but disgusting as in ridiculing dead animals for entertainment.

If we start by reflecting briefly on for what purpose we (humans) kill animals (the rest of the poor sods who weren’t blessed with opposable thumbs), there are different reasons. But the main reason is for food, as animals have been and still are an important food source for many. While the fish used in Smiska Fisk was leftover fish, meant to be thrown out anyway, this does not justify the game. The fish used must have been completely edible (you didn’t go home sick after holding it in your mouth, did you?), making Smiska Fisk not the one way to put the fish to good use. Let me point out that the fish was thrown away afterwards anyway. Most importantly however, this game was disgusting because fish is a creature, like all of us, which deserves not to be laughed at and used in such a demeaning way.

We look very seriously on mutilating dead human bodies. We condemn animal cruelty and create plenty of email forwards in protest to this. However this righteous anger does not extend to cruelty to dead animals. Apparently it is okay to mutilate a dead animal body, at least according to Smiska Fisk. It is sickening to see this disrespect towards a fellow animal, especially for the sake of fun. We, at the top of the food chain, have assumed stewardship over all animals on Earth. While many of you probably support WWF’s efforts, you fail to realise a key issue with Smiska Fisk. During the game, you ridicule a dead animal, for the sake of a crass tradition. Meanwhile WWF and any animal rights organisation promotes respect between humans and animals. Every activist would agree with what Chief Seattle wrote to the American government in the 1800s that: the bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers. This means that animal cruelty merely takes on a new form when one laughs at a dead animal. It died, and now it is being passed around from mouth to mouth as a perverse welcome to a school? How can we play with dead creatures and still call ourselves humane?

If we then look at the environmental aspects of this, again, we see a gross misconduct. The fish used took a large environmental toll in order to be produced and sold. This production cost expects the product to be eaten, otherwise there is no reason for the fish being caught. Sweden consumes about 139,000 tonnes of fish every year, and this number is increasing. This however does not factor in that almost a fourth of all products bought at supermarkets are not eaten at all, but are thrown out. While the food you forgot to eat is now at the dump, you forget what it cost the environment to produce your rotting compost. Farmed salmon emits 11.9 kg CO2 per 1 kg meat, canned tuna emits 6.1 kg CO2 per 1 kg meat, meaning it rivals pork in production and transport emissions. This means that fish has notably large carbon footprints. Fish are fed aquaculture feed that is made of fish byproducts coming from half way around the world, are shipped halfway around the world again and end up in dumps. Not to mention that the most popular fish, salmon, probably coming from Norway, is infested by sea lice, meaning the fish eat more medication such as diflubenzuron. This drug is harmful to aquatic invertebrates and crustaceans as diflubenzuron hampers chitin production (which is a vital component of exoskeletons), and can easily rise to toxic levels in water. Recently also frozen cod was in the news, as Findus brand cod was first fished in Barents Sea, then shipped to China to be filleted, and shipped to Sweden to be sold in local stores. This fish, travelled 42,000 kilometres which is equal to more than two laps around Earth. At least Findus’s lasagna was locally sourced.

While Kungsholmens Gymnasium is an amazing school, it harbours a terrible tradition. Smiska Fisk is advertised as a fun way, or to quote directly, fintastic way to start off your school year. Fish is an expensive product in environmental terms. It is also an animal which, like any creature, entails respect. Putting these things together, would imply that Smiska Fisk is the wrong way to start your school year, and in fact, an inhumane one. Hopefully you will not participate in any upcoming gill-themed events. Do not sink that low.