Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Holy Mackerel and Other Guilt-Free Fish

The Oceans Alive Web site ( has information on almost 200 species of finfish, shellfish and mollusks. Many carry an eco-best or an eco-worst stamp, judgments based on the impact fishing will have on species' populations. Others have a health concern stamp, and the site suggests how many times a month those fish can be safely eaten by men, women, children up to age 6 and children ages 6 to 12.

Buying fish on the no-problems list can be tricky. Fish counters are stingy with information, and their signs can be deceiving. Last year The Times found that much of the salmon labeled as wild in New York City stores in the off-season was farmed. By law, fish must be labeled with country of origin, but stores seldom provide specifics.

Good luck finding out whether the halibut in the case is from the Pacific or the Atlantic. The former is highly recommended, the latter is overfished and can be contaminated with mercury. But the more customers annoy fish store managers with questions, the more likely they are to receive answers. Fishmongers should know whether fish is farmed or wild at least.
I like this Oceans Alive site. I was reading over here at Green Facts about fisheries, and that 25% of all fish stocks monitored are either overexploited, depleted or recovering. I would like to stay away from those, but I didn't know which they were. Oceans Alive helps to give me that info, and lets me know that my favorites of Pacific salmon, halibut and dungeness crab are all on the eco best list.

I was also curious, if I were only allowing myself one quota of sustainable seafood (1/6 billionth of the total as there are 6 billion people) how much would that be? World marine capture fisheries production was around 84 million tonnes in 2002. I believe that this yield could be sustainable if fisherman wouldn't over fish certain species, and other species were allowed to recover. At 84 million tonnes that works out to 14kg (37lb) of fish for every person on the planet per year. So, everyone could eat a little over 2/3 a pound of fish a week. I hadn't realized that there was that much fish available.

via New York Times

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