Amid concerns of widespread contamination from mercury and other chemicals that make almost every kind of  marine life suspect for human consumption, I am researching reputable sources to make information available to you on how to find seafood that is both safe to eat and sustainable for aquatic life.

Official reports from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tell us that on average Americans eat a mere 4 ounces of fish per week.  At that quantity the risk from contaminants is minimal. You would have to eat much larger quantities of certain types of fish on a regular basis to be concerned about the risk of mercury poisoning.

The health benefits of eating seafood, even contaminated seafood in moderate amounts, far outweigh the risks of current contamination levels. Of course, if you could avoid contaminated fish altogether, that would be the best plan.  Check this out – If you know where a fish lived, how long it lived and what it consumed, you have the knowledge to significantly reduce your risk. It’s not as difficult as you might imagine:

  • Where it lived – Fish caught in open waters are more contaminated than farmed-raised fish from tanks.
  • How long it lived – Older fish are a greater risk than younger fish because the heavy metal contaminants gradually build up over their entire lifetime.
  • What it consumed – Fish that eat other fish have higher levels of toxicity because they retain the contaminants from their prey.

Make a mental checklist of these factors when selecting your menu options or meal preparations. Whole fish that are two pounds or less represent a very low risk factor.

Essential oils such as omega-3 fatty acids make seafood a great choice in a healthy diet. Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health found that even just eating 1 to 2 servings of fish a week reduces the risk of death from heart disease by 36 percent, and overall death by 17 percent. They say consuming a minimal 250 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids a day, the equivalent of 6 to 8 ounces a week of wild salmon or other oily fish, could prevent heart disease.

Fish farming is actually the only sure path to sustainable seafood for the world. Raising your own fish is the best and only real way to know you are providing high quality seafood for yourself and those you love.

Some reports estimate that open seas fishing has reduced the total available seafood by as much as 70 percent over the last century. In response to the shrinking natural supplies, commercial fish farms have attempted to bridge the gap. They now account for about half of all fish consumed, but farmed fish are mostly just as contaminated as fish caught in the wild. Even so, they don’t yet provide adequate seafood to satisfy market demands.

A great number of  commercial fish farms are merely large cages that keep fish in a confined area in shallow seawater, lakes or river deltas. Unless water quality is monitored, farm-raised fish grown in these conditions may be living in water that is just as contaminated as that of fish netted in open waters. Also, these fish are usually raised in densely populated cages, which can upset the aquatic ecosystem that the fish live in and of the surrounding area because of elevated ammonia levels. Also, the cages can be damaged by predators or storms and huge numbers of fish from the cages can escape and invade the area, upsetting the aquatic balance. Unless a balanced diet is provided for the fish, since they are not free to find their food sources, the nutritional quality of the fish may not be any better than fish captured in the wild.

In the final analysis my intention is to make you aware of how you can protect your family and inform yourself of the conditions in which fish are grown.  If you live where  locally raised fish are commonplace, it is easier to ask questions about water quality and fish food. Maybe I can even challenge you to raise a few hundred pounds of seafood for your own family and friends — it’s not that hard.

In the pages that follow we will explore various ways you can be sure you are getting the best quality seafood available.

best farm-raised fish ~

26 Responses to “Aquaculture”
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