Everyday conversations: The business of seafood [audio]

Students shop for fish and discuss the seafood market. (State Dept./D.A. Peterson)

Six students from around the world meet. What do they have in common? They are all exchange students studying at a U.S. university for a semester. Throughout the semester, they learn more English, learn about U.S. culture, and learn more about their fields of study. This series of Everyday Conversations is about these six students and their experiences during a semester at a university in the U.S. These conversations are for intermediate-level English-language learners or higher.

This conversation is about the importance of fishing in a way that doesn’t harm the health of the oceans. Students (Akinyi and Lee) talk about good and bad types of fishing — and how consumer demand for fish can have an effect.

Akinyi: Thanks for coming with me to this symposium on sustainable fishing.

Lee: It’s my pleasure! As an environmental science major, this is something I’m very interested in. But I’m surprised a business major is interested in this topic.

Akinyi: Well, marine life in my country is being destroyed because of unsustainable fishing.

Lee: Why? Is there overfishing in your country?

Akinyi: Yes, it’s a problem everywhere in the world, I think. But it can change. People can choose to buy only sustainable seafood. Consumer demand makes a difference!

Lee: Now you’re sounding like a business major.

Akinyi: Well, business, environment, food, our health — they’re all connected.

Lee: That’s a really good point. We need to think about all of those. Otherwise, we’ll keep destroying our marine ecosystems until there are no more fish in the sea!

Now let’s review the vocabulary.

A symposium is a formal meeting at which experts discuss a particular topic.

Sustainable fishing is fishing in a way that can maintain the population of the fish without harming the health or habitat of the oceans. Using sustainable fishing, the fish population does not decrease over time, and there are few or no environmental impacts.

When unsustainable fishing occurs, the populations of fish decline over time because of the methods of fishing used.

Overfishing is taking wildlife from the sea faster than the wildlife can reproduce (produce babies).

Sustainable seafood is seafood that is caught or farmed in a way that can maintain the population of the seafood without harming the health or habitat of the oceans.

The amount that consumers desire a product or service (based on its availability) is consumer demand.

A marine ecosystem is everything that exists in a marine (ocean) environment. This includes living things such as plants and fish, and things that are not living such as rocks, soil and water.

There are no more fish in the sea: The speaker is playing with the idiom “There are plenty of fish in the sea.” This idiom is often said to someone whose relationship has ended; it means that there are other people in the world to meet and date. In the conversation above, the speaker is using the phrase “there are no more fish in the sea” to mean that unsustainable fishing can kill all of the fish in the ocean.

Ready to learn more English? Our materials can help.

The American English website offers a variety of free resources for learners and teachers of English. The American English Facebook page posts learning materials for English-language learners daily.

Everyday Conversations are developed by the State Department’s Heidi Howland, a senior program officer in the Office of English Language Programs, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.