Eating fresh fish and seafood is one of the biggest treats we expect from our coastal summer vacation. Nothing is as delightful as sitting on the terrace of a seaside restaurant, eating freshly caught fish and sipping a glass of wine. But, things are not as simple any more. To choose the fish from the restaurant menu that will not kill you or that is not on an endangered species list, you need a great deal of knowledge, or one of those neat little Seafood Watch booklets published by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Healthy or Deadly
Very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish is an important part of a balanced diet. Fish in our nutrition helps us boost our immunity and lower our risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke and many other diseases.
Fish and other seafood accumulate in their tissue contaminants that fall into the oceans, rivers and lakes from the air and from the land. Mercury is the most common and it affects human development and brain function. Other commonly found contaminants are PCBs and DDT. The larger and the older the fish is, the more contaminants it managed to accumulate. Large fish such as sharks, tuna and swordfish are the most dangerous.
The Best Choices
Finding the seafood that is at the same time rich in omega-3 fatty acids, is not endangered and is not full of contaminants is not easy. Monterey Bay Aquarium worked with the Harvard School of Public Health and Environmental Defense Fund to produce the list of best choices:
- Albacore Tuna (troll- or pole-caught, from the U.S. or British Columbia)
- Freshwater Coho Salmon (farmed in tank systems, from the U.S.)
- Oysters (farmed)
- Pacific Sardines (wild-caught)
- Rainbow Trout (farmed)
- Salmon (wild-caught, from Alaska)
- Arctic Char (farmed)
- Barramundi (farmed, from the U.S.)
- Dungeness Crab (wild-caught, from California, Oregon or Washington)
- Longfin Squid (wild-caught, from the U.S. Atlantic)
- Mussels (farmed)
- Bluefin tuna (yellowfin and bigeye tuna – “ahi” – are fine)
- Red snapper
- Chilean sea bass
- Atlantic halibut (Pacific halibut is fine)
- Atlantic cod (Pacific cod is fine)
- Spiny lobster (except from California)
Fish with the most mercuryAccording to the US EPA, three species of fish are most likely to contain large quantity of mercury:
- King Mackerel
EPA or Environmental Protection Agency also recommends to mix up your fish varieties and to eat about 12 ounces (two portions) per week for optimal health. Children should eat about half of this.If you are vacationing in a fishing town or village, check the EPA interactive map to find out what is the best fish to eat locally. And when you are craving sushi, bring your little Seafood Watch Pocket Guide and check what is your best choice. You might drive the waiter crazy, but that is the only way of eating raw fish these days, staying healthy and not ending up eating the last endangered little shrimp of the oceans.