With increasing pollution and radiation levels off the charts in our oceans, wild fish are becoming as hazardous to our health as factory farmed meat. Most farmed fish are no longer safe to consume due to genetic modification and practices which have transformed many species into swimming poison.
Many species are so high in contaminants like mercury that their health benefits are outweighed by their health risks. Others are flown in from halfway around the world, but given labels that make you think they were caught fresh earlier that morning. And still others are raised in filthy, overcrowded pools and loaded up with chemicals to keep them alive.
Two years ago, scientists had for the first time – discovered Bluefin tuna that were contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan last year – swimming off the coast of California. Radioactive cesium ten times above the normal level was found in the fish. Hazardous radionuclides such as iodine-131, caesium 137, and other isotopes currently being released in the sea and air around Fukushima bio-concentrate at each step of various food chains (for example into algae, crustaceans, small fish, bigger fish, then humans; or soil, grass, cow’s meat and milk, then humans).
Mercury contamination of all seafood is a widespread public health concern. In fact, pregnant women, children and women who might become pregnant should avoid the consumption of swordfish, tuna and orange roughy due to their high methyl-mercury content.
The EU’s food safety authority (EFSA) “EFSA recommends that women of childbearing age…select fish from a wide range of species, without giving undue preference to large predatory fish such as swordfish and tuna,” it said in a statement.
In addition to being toxic for humans, swordfish and many other species of fish are being caught in ways that are devastating ocean habitats and fisheries. Longline fishing, the fishing method used to catch swordfish, kills thousands of sea turtles per year.
“If the fish is sustainable, then it is likely to be healthy to eat too,” said Leah Gerber, an associate professor and senior sustainability scientist at Arizona State University.
“In general, larger longer-lived fish are more likely to have exposure to toxins due to the length of their lives and their place on the food chain,” Gerber explained. “So you might be best served to stay away from them — like Bluefin Tuna or Swordfish. Besides they already are over fished.”
Around 95 percent of all salmon in existence are now farmed, and domestication has made them very different to wild populations, each of which is locally adapted to its own river system. Just two years ago a Purdue University scientist urged federal officials to decide favorably on allowing genetically engineered salmon into the food supply arguing that not doing so may set back scientific efforts to increase food production.
The argument came in direct contradiction to statements made by the same scientist who found that releasing a transgenic fish to the wild could damage native populations even to the point of extinction.
A June 2013 report from the Earth Policy Institute noted that worldwide production of farmed fish now not only exceeds the production of beef, but that consumption of farmed fish is soon expected to exceed consumption of wild-caught fish.
There are dozens of species unworthy of consumption, however due to their popularity and accessibility, here are 7 you should stay away from.
Why It’s Bad: At .976 ppm (parts per million), it has the highest mercury content of any fish out there. The bio accumulation of methyl mercury is worse the higher up the food chain that you go hence swordfish is fairly bad because it’s higher up the food chain. The same argument can be justified for shark and marlin.
Mercury pollutants have to be made into bio-available methyl mercury by anaerobic sulfur based bacteria. These only exist in certain regions so if you can get swordfish that’s from an area without the deep water sulfur based bacteria then you can avoid the high contamination levels. Problem is that these anoxic regions are growing every year due to warmer waters which carry less oxygen thereby favouring anaerobic organisms over aerobic.
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