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Choosing Which Fish To Buy

Updated on September 25, 2014

How To Select The Most Sustainalbe Fish

Choosing at the seafood counter has never been more complicated. Fish can be a healthy addition to any diet but choosing the right fish to eat both for your own health and the health of the enviornment is critical. Questions you might be asking yourself: What's sustainable and what isn't? What about salmon, is it still okay to buy? Farmed or not farmed? Which seafood has the highest levels of mercury and PCB's? What if I am pregnant or nursing?

On this page, you will find tips for choosing well such that you can buy the most sustainable and healthiest selection. From fresh to frozen and even canned.

photo source:: www.wholefoodsmarket.com/.../departments.php

Assuming we do nothing about the current situation, If fishing around the world continues at its present pace,there will be "global collapse" of all species currently fished, within the next 40 years, fisheries experts and ecologists predict.

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3 Tips For Choosing Well At The Fish Counter

1. Make it Western

Western fisheries meet ecological standards that are the highest in the world. Ask where your seafood selection comes from and choose a western source.

2. Eat a lot of different kinds of seafood.

Selecting only one kind of fish all the time allows for accumulation of potential, specific toxins to build up in you.(take it from me, I once had high levels of mercury from eating tons of canned tunafish.) Also, say you love salmon as many of do, and thats all you and millions of others buy, this leads to over fishing of that species and ultimately extinction. So mix it up.

3. Buy in season

Yes, seafood has seasons; thats when its cheapest add easiest to find fresh instores.

photo dource;fiesta.bren.ucsb.edu/.../CatchShares/photos.html

Ask How The Fish Was Caught Not When The Fish Was Caught

People think that asking when the fish was caught will lead them to a quality fish. What you really should ask is how was it caught and then taken care of afterward. It's better to have a fish caught two days ago by hook and line and immediately gutted and iced rather than one caught this morning by trawlnet and not put on ice.

The Health and Safety Of Consuming Fish

The safety of fresh and saltwater fish depends on the local environmental conditions. This is often changing. Pregnant women, women of childbearing age and young children should restrict consumption of seafood contsining moderae to high levels of mercury, such as swordfish, shark,tuna, and lobster to once a month.

Here are a few fish to avoid in general.

Chilean Seabass aka Patagonian toothfish - overfished

Atlantic cod- overfished and high in mercury

Atlantic Halibut- they are so overfished they are considered 'commercially extinct' Pacific halibut are abundant. Both contain high mercury levels

Swordfish and Tuna -Both are overfished, have a huge bycatch (unintended catch of any other sea life), and are high in mercury

Shrimp-most are farm raised with huge environmental impact. Wild caught shrimp have a high bycatch

Shark-severly overfished, highest in mercury

Here are a few better choices

Catfish - Farmed with little impact

Pacific Cod - Abundant populations, moderate mercury

Herring -Abundant,low mercury

Wild Alaskan SalmonHealthy fisheries, well managed, low mercury

Tilapia-farmed with minimal environmental impact

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The Salmon Dilema - Wild or Farmed?

90 % of the salmon eaten in the United States is farmed. Farmed salmon is certainly cheaper but it is not the better choice. Farmed salmon has high levels of PCB's and is routinely sprayed with antibiotics. It is also fed an unnatural diet in most cases and color is added to the finished product to give it it's pink hue. (Which naturally occurs when salmon swim through rivers as a natural part of their spawning cycle). In addition, farmed salmon pollutes the environment and threatens wild fish species (when the farmed salmon escape, they spread parasites and deseases.)

The best choice is wild Alaskan salmon. This salmon comes from a sustainable fishery that meets strict environmental regulations. this salmon is also high in omega 3 fatty acids which are essential to good health.

photo source: www.naturemoms.com/.../benefits-of-wild-salmon/

Visit the page Got Mercury? to help you make healthier seafood choices and calculate your mercury exposure based on mercury consumption through eating seafood.

Learn More About Modern Fisheries Here

Frozen Fish Basics

The best seafood to eat frozen is that from the West coast, From Alaska is even better. Look for The Marine Stewardship Council logo. Also look for labels that tell you where and how the fish was caught or raised.

Fish frozen at sea can sometimes be of better quality than fresh. Also, frozen fish transported by truck or ship have a lower carbon footprint than aifreighted fresh.

The best way to thaw frozen fish is overnight in the refrigerator. This protects the flavor and retains the juice. For a short cut, immerse sealed package in a container of cool water. Change water often until fish is thawed.

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Canned Fish Basics

The best fish to buy canned is wild salmon and pole-or-troll-caught albacore tuna, both harvested and canned in the West. Most sardines and oysters are sourced and canned overseas and not subject to U.S. scrutiny. Canned fish is often cheaper than fresh.

Here are some of the best brands of canned fish.

American Tuna - A wedge of hand-filleted albacore cooked in it's juices, rich and deeply flavorful. Pole caught by Pacific Coast families. Approved by the Marine Stewardship Council.

Dave's Albacore Fillets in olive oil- Big, moist flakes and pure tuna flavor. Caught by hook and line, hand filleted, and packed in oil.

Redhead Wild Alaskan Sockeye- Deep pink,jucy, strong flavor. Just sockeye and a bit if salt

365 Everyday value Wild RedSockeye- Rich briney-sweet,bright taste,jucy.

Natural Sea Wild Premium Alaskan Pink Salmon and Trader Koes Alaskan Pink Salmon.-Both pale pink jucy and flavorful.

photo source:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Canned_fish_2.JPG

Thanks For Stopping By - I'd Love to hear from you

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    • stacysinclair profile image

      stacysinclair 3 years ago

      Really helpful info! Have you seen the new(ish) book called "The Mortal Sea" on how humans have been fishing out the North Atlantic?

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      JFB91 7 years ago

      Really helpful information!

    • poptastic profile image

      Cynthia Arre 7 years ago from Quezon City

      Very informative lens. Tilapia and cod are quite common here in the Philippines so they're staples in our kitchen, but I hadn't realized that tuna is now considered overfished. Must find a substitute for it then.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Really informative lens about choosing fish. Great information. I'll be wiser at the seafood counter now. Thank you. 5*