Our Abused Oceans – Is Seafood Anymore a Choice?

by Ravi
My Aberdeen born and bred grandmother (NOT pictured here…) lived to be 96 – and was tiny but in sturdy health till the end. Aberdeen – before the North Sea oil boom, was a sleepy seaside village-town with the most impressive rows and rows of solid granite block houses.  My little grannie grew up eating a solid portion of seafood (thus her good health and long life) but for the rest, she ate the odd diet that passed for edible in Great Britain.

But now, in the dark mire of the BP oil spill, shadowing the Exxon Valdiz disaster of several decades ago, what is the state of our catch from the seas?

As I spent my research time digging deeper for background for this blog, I quickly realized that the subject is so vast,  so what to focus on here?  I decided that what we need is good solid info on what seafood is cleanest and being fished most responsibly.   Seafood is so brilliantly nutritious provided we can be confident that we are getting a net-benefit from eating it considering the possible contaminants. (If you want more overview of our distressed oceans, go here .)

Here is a good watch – a very well produced appeal for supporting sustainable fishing from our already depleted and polluted oceans:

Whatever the mainstream pitch is on the Gulf, I personally would not eat anything caught anywhere even close. The dispersant COREXIT alone is reason enough to put down your fork and bury the plate.  Reports on the contaminants and seriously negative ecological impact of almost all farmed fish has me avoiding anything not wild caught – however, on the Monterey Bay site linked below – there are some well-regulated seafood farming operations – and they can tell you which.

So what fish and what fisheries do you buy?  First thing to realize is that the larger the predator fish, the (much) higher concentrations of all the nasties that accumulate in the fish’s body tissues (that you then eat..)   Just about anything available in conventional groceries stores should be avoided unless you can be reasonably sure of the source – which you can’t cause that assurance is tough for conventional stores to give to you due to long and sometimes complicated supply chains.  Specialty shops may offer more detail but they too must deal directly with known fisheries to give such assurances.  Canned tuna is very suspect – “dolphin safe” is rather like “all natural” (ie – can often as not be bogus)- the supplies come from such diverse global sources that unless the middleman companies are absolutely strict and check their sources – all kinds of hanky-panky go on there. And sushi (mmmm good) is just out – -‘less you make it yourself form your guaranteed known source. Important to note that mercury is not to be consumed lightly – it is the 2nd most toxic substance to humans and you probably already have waaay to much load in your amalgam fillings (another rant is brewing in me there…).

After literally years of updating myself on this issue, I have concluded that the only seafood to buy is either well monitored specialty fisheries like Wild Planet and Vital Choice (who we represent on our site here) and to get and print the Montery Bay Sustainable Guides and take them with you to the store!

Here is the link for the Monterey Bay’s “Super Green List” of fish to eat.

Here is the link for Monterey Bay’s Seafood Recommendations

Sustainable/green fishing products have different possible labels to look for  – one of the best is The Marine Stewardship Council Seal – then you know it’s pretty well monitored.

Final notes:  It’s not easy being green – and it’s not cheap either.  We, as a community, decided that if we could not afford buy the most assuredly sustainable and lowest mercury fish available, we’d stick with the cheaper (yes cheaper) grass fed organic beef.  How often do we eat fish? Not so often – but we are increasing our experiments with sardines as they are inexpensive, at the bottom of the food chain thus low in contaminants and they are not endangered.

Here are some selections of Henry and Lisa ECO FISH Sustainable Seafood and Wild Planet Seafood – both *excellent* choices with Wild Planet tuna being very reasonably priced when purchased in multiples:

http://ws.amazon.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&MarketPlace=US&ID=V20070822%2FUS%2Fdai0a-20%2F8010%2F15a9a9b2-9621-4fd1-a7ec-19e220abc89a&Operation=GetDisplayTemplate Amazon.com Widgets

Do you have experiences or ideas about our battered oceans or the seafood that comes from them? Please comment!


2 Responses to Our Abused Oceans – Is Seafood Anymore a Choice?

  1. Laurie says:

    We rarely eat seafood, for just these reasons. Living in the Midwest, our options are limited. I do purchase sardines regularly. What do you think about oysters?

    • daiaravi says:

      Hi Laurie – i think you will find some good info on oysters on the Monterey Bay sites – the risks of eating shellfish are 2-fold, first is the bacteria that may be present in polluted colonies and secondly – the pollutants themselves. I saw that the Super Green choices recommended did include a good abalone-farming operation – so i can imagine that oysters could be sustainably farmed as well – i’m not specifically informed as i don’t go much for oysters – (although used to love them raw at PJ’s in san fran years ago) . As mentioned – we pretty much buy fish shipped frozen online from Vital Choice or Wild Planet cause they do the work of assuring sustainability and fishing in unpolluted waters for us – costs more but hey – ya get what ya pay for, yes? be nice to eat more fish from these sources – but bucks are limited – what to do?

      Try going to Vital Choice through our link above and see what they have to offer.

      Thanks for commenting-

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