Small choices can have a large impact. When choosing a fish off of a restaurant menu or selecting seafood in a supermarket, consumers are often unaware how these choices affect the planet. Buyers may not realize that the money from fish they just purchased supports overfishing, or their week’s supply of fish contains dangerous levels of a well-known carcinogen, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Overfishing and irresponsible fishing methods cause irreversible damage to the oceans and wildlife.
Salmon is a Trendy Choice
Recently growing in popularity is salmon. From the latest studies promoting the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids (abundantly found in salmon) to reports linking increased risk of colon cancer to red meat consumers, more and more people are electing to include salmon in their diets. The most purchased type of salmon is farmed.
Farmed Fish High in PCBs
Farmed salmon contains PCB levels 16 times greater than those found in wild salmon, according to the Environmental Working Group in a study posted by The Wild Salmon Company.
Asian-farmed tilapia is raised in an area where pollution is poorly managed, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program. Out of the tilapia consumed by the United States, only 10% is safely raised in the country.
Some Farmed Fish is Best
Arctic char, a fish very similar to salmon in taste, is “nutritionally superior to other fish” and holds increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins and minerals, according to TrulyWild.ca, a website hosted by Nunavat’s arctic char processing facilities. The fish are harvested fresh in-season and also available frozen all year. Also, catfish farmed in the United States is another great option, high in Vitamins D and B12.
Learn About Sustainable Seafood Options
The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has an interactive online Sustainable Seafood Guide for website visitors. Dedicated to making opportunities for change in the seafood industry, the Seafood Choices Alliance is another resource that can assist consumers in their seafood selections. Most popular are the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sustainable Seafood Guides. Users can conveniently download a pocket guide tailored to their region of residence that they can carry with them and easily reference when dining out or grocery shopping.
Consumers can avoid chemical-laced fish and prevent the support of environmentally-damaging fishing practices by reading the above guides, talking to sellers at their local seafood market and making an effort to opt for more eco-friendly dishes when dining out.