Shiluach HaKan שילוח הקן (literally – “Sending away from the nest) is one of the most unusual laws in the Torah. In Deuteronomy 22:6-7 is says: “If a bird’s nest chances before you and it contains fledglings or eggs, if the mother is sitting upon the fledglings or upon the eggs, you shall not take the mother from upon the young. You shall send away the mother, and then you may take the young for yourself, in order that it should be good for you, and you should lengthen your days.” This is a unique mitzvah because it is only one of two mitzvot which says that its observance will cause long life.
However, since neither the young birds nor the fertilized eggs are fit to consume according to Jewish law, then there must be another reason for the mitzvah. So what is the real purpose of this law? The Ramban (Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman 1194-1270) said the purpose of Shiluach HaKan was to instill compassion into people and teach us to be merciful. Rabbi Bachya ibn Pakuda (1050-1120) said this mitzvah is to teach that people should avoid doing anything that will destroy a species, for to slaughter mother and children on the same day is akin to mass extermination.
Today, massive ocean trawlers not only take mother and offspring together, they will take an entire school of fish, sometimes hundreds of thousands at the same time. According to scientific data, if this practice is not changed, we could see the collapse of every major fishery on the planet by 2048. Industrial fishing is a gross violation of Shiluach HaKan. If the reward for observing Shiluach HaKan is long life, then we’ll have to wait until 2048 to see what the punishment will be if we don’t.
Unlike some of the other issues we address, overfishing has been occurring for hundred of years. Yet, we can't seem to stop repeating the past.
What Is Overfishing?
Image Source: 4Ocean
What Is Overfishing?
The simplest definition of overfishing is the catching of fish faster than they can reproduce. This results in fewer and fewer fish in the ocean, bringing some species to the brink of extinction. However, the world currently consumes more fish than ever before, approximately 20 kilos of fish per person per year. This causes fishermen to "fish down the food chain," going after species lower in the food chain that are more abundant than their overfished catches. Additionally, bycatch, non-targeted fish that end up caught by the current fishing practices, totals to almost 40 million tons yearly. It has been found that the lack of biodiversity caused by fishing means that the ocean's ability to fight diseases, filter pollutants, and resist climate change has been significantly decreased. Scientists predict that the global fisheries will have to close by 2048.
Education, research, and political activism.
Fish Free Programs
No fish or fish products are consumed on Tikkun HaYam programs. We walk the walk and hope that influences our participants to remain mindful in their journey.
Scubi Jew alternative school breaks sometimes include REEF Fish Identification Dives. These surveys contribute to the world's largest database on fish abundance.
What You Can Do
While there are communities around the world that rely on seafood as their primary source of protein, in North America we eat fish out of choice, it's not a necessity. It is time to stop choosing seafood. There are several marine conservationists who agree, there is no such thing as sustainable seafood. As consumers, we hold a lot of power when it comes to environmental awareness. Choose to forgo that fish dish or choose sustainable options using Seafood Watch.
You can also donate to Oceana, which seeks to help our ocean by winning policy victories in the countries that govern much of the world's marine life.