Wednesday, January 03, 2007

HFF Talks About Fish

Fish is good for you. Fish is tasty. Fish is overfished. A recent study suggests that the world's fisheries will be commercially extinct in less than 40 years.

So that sucks.

What then to do? You have to know your fish. There are two major myths:

1. Wild is always better. Simply false. Smaller fish, freshwater fish, and most shellfish are better for you and better for the environment when farmed. Farmed shellfish are harvested from controlled aquaculture sites instead of dragged up from sensitive wild ecosystems. Freshwater fish like catfish and trout are farmed inland in large concrete pools instead of in fenced off ocean coves--making the likelihood of escape into the wild population virtually nil. Additionally, farming isn't a cut and dry thing--there are better farming methods. Loch Duart in Scotland is a notable example and there are new developments in biodynamic farming in Hawai'i and Canada. We should encourage these practices because this might be our only hope for a consistent seafood supply into the future.

2. Bigger fish are bad for you. Sure there are mercury problems with tuna, swordfish, and ot.her big predator fish but these aren't significant issues unless your pregnant, nursing, or a child. Or you eat a shit ton of tuna every week. But 2 or 3 servings a month for a healthy adult isn't going to make you mad as a hatter. In many instances bigger fish are more likely to be pole-caught from better managed fisheries.

The best thing you can do when picking fish is to find out how it's harvested and where it's from--these factors are much more significant in most instances than the fish itself. Farmed Atlantic salmon bad. Wild California salmon, better. Wild Alaskan salmon, best. Bluefin tuna bad, yellowfin tuna from the Phillipines, still pretty bad. Yellowfin from Hawai'i good, in particular if it's pole or troll caught and not longline caught. Unfortunately this information is not readily available (beyond wild vs. farmed) in most cases. Seek out fishmongers that do provide this information--or ask.

It takes some legwork but if you plan to keep eating fish, eating as responsibly as possible is important and more nuanced then you think.

Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch is a great starting point.

Most importantly, don't be a douche and be all snide and picky at a restaurant unless you know your facts. Farmed trout is okay folks! It's okay!

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