Fish Are Friends, Sometimes Food: the Pros and Cons of Seafood Consumption
Let’s explore seafood consumption! Right off the bat, I’d like to put it out there that I personally do not consume any seafood, but I am aware of the benefits and risks, or pros and cons of seafood consumption. There are health benefits that can be gained from eating fish, and there are risks that seafood consumption poses. Hopefully, this blog post will help you explore a healthy medium, and a sustainable way to consume seafood. I will also reference and explain the features of the Seafood Watch App.
Fish are a Lean, Accessible Protein
Since the time of the hunter-gatherers, about 2 million years ago, humans have been eating fish and using it as a source of food and livelihood. In the 1870s the first fishing boats appeared and with them, practices such as trawling and drift netting. Fish is a lean protein packed with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, vitamin B2, calcium, phosphorus, and many minerals. Nutrients and ingredients in fish have been proven to have the potential to lower blood pressure. Health groups such as the American Heart Association have suggested the consumption of fish biweekly. There have been studies to show that eating fish can lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Eating fish could prevent the decline of brain function correlated with aging.
Throughout time, fish has served as a popular and beneficial source of protein and used in many cultures around the world in traditional and modern recipes, as well as diet and lifestyle. Historically, fishing and seafood consumption has contributed to cultural significance, family traditions, livelihood and jobs for many people, and symbolism around the world.
Plenty of Fish in the Sea? Not with Overfishing
The methods of fishing, as well as fishing demands, have been detrimental to wild populations of fish in freshwater and in the ocean. Subsequent marine life has also been negatively impacted via bycatch. Bycatch is one of the leading causes of population decline in some marine species. It’s when a non-targeted marine animal is caught during fishing.
Additionally, there has been a rise in mercury content in popular fish. With overconsumption of fish, humans are ingesting mercury at unhealthy levels and it can have long-term health risks. With all of the microplastics found in sea life, it is likely that humans who consume seafood also run the risk of consuming these microplastics in addition to harmful amounts of mercury. Due to the high demand for seafood, we have depleted wild populations faster than they can recover and caused a shortage of fish worldwide.
Source: Seafood Watch
So What Should Have for Dinner?
If you choose to partake in seafood consumption, there are choices that are better for you, and better for the environment. Right now, some great options are types of rockfish, salmon, trout, herring, and muscles. Downloading and referring to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch App is paramount in sustainable seafood selection. The app can show you the best choices in your area for seafood selection and can show you certain businesses that source from responsible seafood providers. The app will also show you how sustainable an option each type of fish is. For example, you will see that yellowfin tuna is on the red list, and you will see the location and method for catching this kind of fish. Under tuna, you can find green-list and sustainable options depending on your preference for fish.
There is no denying that there are risks and benefits to every type of protein, including fish. However, it is best to keep educated, practice moderation, and spread awareness regarding practices of fishing, and endangered species that suffer from overfishing. There is always a sustainable, green way to consume the food you love. Fish are our friends, and so is food!
Written By: Bailey Higa