Fishing for Sustainabilty

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The massive demand we place on seafood may not exactly be in the best interest of the fish and other sea creatures we consume, but our seafood selections can also affect our own health, as well as the health of the environment.  The good news is that some seafood is better than others in terms of human health and environmental issues.

Consuming some fish has its benefits, such as providing a low-fat, high-protein meal.  Oily fish are full of omega-3 fatty acids which:  help maintain cardiovascular health; reduce tissue inflammation and alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis; and play an important role in prenatal and postnatal neurological development.

Fish that are high in omega-3s, low in environmental contaminants and are eco-friendly include:  wild salmon from Alaska, Arctic char, Atlantic mackerel, sardines, sablefish, anchovies, farmed oysters, and  farmed rainbow trout.   Other foods rich in omega-3’s include walnuts, wheat germ and ground flaxseed.

Human health concerns include:  ingesting too much mercury, PCB’s, lead, dioxins, DDT, and dieldrin, which can lead to birth defects, neurological problems and cancer.  These substances find their way into our waterways via stormwater runoff, industrial and municipal discharges, agricultural practices and pesticide use.

Detrimental effects on the ocean environment include:  the spread of parasites and disease to wild marine life near fish farms; damage to the habitats where fish feed and breed; the death of bycatch (unwanted or unintentional catch) which limits the rebuilding of depleted fish populations; overfishing which means catching fish faster than they can reproduce.

Seafood to avoid includes:  Chilean sea bass; some tuna; grouper; orange roughy; rockfish; farmed Atlantic salmon; imported Swordfish; Atlantic cod; imported king crab; Atlantic flounder/sole; Atlantic halibut; octopus; imported shrimp/prawns; Asian tilapia; red, silk, vermilion, and imported snapper.  Also, look for the Marine Stewardship Council label for sustainable seafood.

Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s website for more information and a pocket guide to the best and worst seafood choices.  Check out the Environmental Defense Fund’s sushi pocket guide here.

Tag(s): Food, Hazardous Products / Health Issues

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One Response to “Fishing for Sustainabilty”

  1. Salmon Fishing Port Hardy on December 1st, 2011 10:37 am

    Fish that are high in omega-3s, low in environmental contaminants and are eco-friendly include: wild salmon from Alaska, Arctic char, Atlantic mackerel, sardines, sablefish, anchovies, farmed oysters

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