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  • Writer's pictureAnita Hollerer-Squire

Which seafood is safe to eat?

Updated: Jun 14, 2021

Fish and seafood is rich in healthy Omega-3 fats and provides us with high-quality proteins. That's why the demand for seafood from growing populations all over the world is steadily increasing.

However, due to overfishing, pollution and the destruction of habitats the world's seafood supply is in decline. Nearly a third of all fisheries are at unsustainable levels, as we are catching fish faster than they can reproduce.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) focuses on reducing the negative impacts of the fishing industry in the world’s most ecologically important marine ecoregions and conserving the most commercially valuable species such as tuna and whitefish. This entails creating sustainable market incentives – spurring fishers, processors, buyers and retailers to commit to certified wild-caught fisheries (Marine Stewardship Council, MSC) and aquaculture (Aquaculture Stewardship Council, ASC), and to purchase and sell seafood products that can be traced back to their origin.

Eating seafood too frequently can pose certain health risks. Seafood contaminants include metals such as mercury, which affects brain function and development, as well as other industrial chemicals, pesticides and plastics. These toxins usually originate on land and make their way into the smallest plants and animals at the base of the ocean food web. As smaller species are eaten by larger ones, those toxins are accumulated. Large predatory fish – like swordfish and sharks – end up with the most toxins.

You can minimize your risks by choosing seafood carefully.

The 2021 documentary Seaspiracy is a fantastic watch and explains the impact commercial fishing has on the environment.

Below find a list of the best and worst choices for seafood, according to the Seafood Watch Consumer Guide from the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California.

NRDC put together a chart of which fish is safer to eat when it comes to avoiding mercury.

What can we do to look after our health and the environment?

  • Eat less fish

  • Eat smaller fish, they generally have less toxins than larger spieces.

  • Choose local seafood. Know where it comes from and how it is caught.

  • Check your country's best fish guide and choose accordingly.

  • Keep plastic out of the ocean! Refuse single-use plastic items like bottles, bags etc.

  • Advocate for environmental change

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