Our family does not really eat fish, so this post is a bit out of character for that one reason. My parents on the other hand LOVE seafood and certain types of fish. However, being as conscious as we are of what we eat, we thought these foodie tips about fish were important to share in a day and age where fish are contaminated with all kinds of “no-nos” for our health (mercury, PCBs, antibiotics), overfished, and caught in environmentally destructive ways.
This tip comes courtesy of Casson Trenor, author of Sustainable Sushi and campaigner with Greenpeace and Fresh the Movie via their e-newsletter.
Fish to Seek Out
- Sardines: Fresh sardines are inexpensive, carry fabulous flavors, and perform marvelously on a grill. Even better, these tiny delights are packed full of Omega-3 fatty acids while their short lifecycle keeps them relatively mercury-free.
- Wild Salmon tastes fantastic, is a high in Omega-3 and low in mercury. Meanwhile, conventional salmon farms with open-net pens have tremendous problems with disease, parasites and waste flow to the ocean. Wild Alaskan salmon provides a comparatively sustainable, healthy alternative at competitive prices.
- Dungeness Crab is caught in non-lethal traps to keep bycatch at low levels and allow female and juvenile crabs to be released unharmed. This helps keep crab populations resilient and robust. And the kicker? Dungeness crab is among the best-tasting shellfish in the world. Grab a cracker and go to town.
- Pole-caught Skipjack Tuna: Canned tuna is a hugely popular seafood item, and the species that’s most often used is skipjack. Unfortunately, skipjack boats generally fish with purse seine nets and fish aggregating devices (FADs), or free-floating rafts that attract many different types of fish, which results in a lot of bycatch. Thankfully, a new industry is beginning to develop — skipjack tuna caught on a pole-and-line, which allows fishermen to be much more precise about what they catch. When you’re shopping for canned tuna, look for the words “pole caught” to support companies that are trying to do right by our oceans.
Fish to Avoid
- Bluefin Tuna stocks around the world are verging on collapse and yet it is still hunted relentlessly to satisfy the world’s sushi industry. Put the chopsticks down!
- Orange Roughy reaches market size well below sexual maturity, which means they get eaten before they have a chance to reproduce. The fish is also caught using destructive bottom trawl nets. It’s best to avoid this species altogether.
- Sharks are apex predators, feeding slowly from the top of the food chain and ensuring the populations of other animals are kept in check. While many sharks are killed accidentally as bycatch in longline fisheries, the majority of shark casualties are from the shark fin industry.
- Chilean Sea Bass are long-lived predators who reproduce slowly. In our quest for seafood, we strain at the boundaries of our food system until we reach the ocean’s farthest-flung reaches—by dropping hooks to the ocean floor off of Antarctica in the middle of winter to catch Chilean sea bass.
Want to learn more about these fish to seek out and to avoid? Have a question or idea to share? Leave a comment on Fresh’s blog! (They have some info about lobster and more.)