Fish are a great source of dietary omega 3 fatty acids, saturated fat and just all around delicious.  When it comes to purchasing fish I follow a couple rules in order to protect my self and the environment.

  1. Small species (large fish contain higher levels of mercury)
  2. Wild Caught (know where your food is coming from)
  3. Sustainable source (some fishing techniques destroy the ocean environment)
  4. Non overfished species (Bluefin tuna if highly overfished)

To start your fish consuming journey, look for small oily species of fish.  Consuming fish low on the food chain will limit your intake of toxic by product since these little fish are eating small spectrum of what is in the ocean.  These little oily fish are full of beneficial omega 3 fatty acids in which the typical American is deficient in (no need to supplement with potentially rancid fish oil pills

Alaskan brown bear catching a jumping salmon, Brooks Falls.

if you are eating a lot of these suckers).  A acronym to follow when you are looking for these species of fish is S.M.A.S.H; salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring.  When I find any of these fish in the tin on sale I stock up on them.  The tin packages are great to have on hand if you ever need some food in a pinch, just pour on top of some greens and the oil doubles as your dressing (I always have a couple tins in my climbing pack).

 

Now that you know what kind of fish to look for you need to become familiar with how the fish was raised.  Just like any other food source you must investigate and be aware of packaging terms to ensure a quality product.  For example a piece of salmon that is labeled “Atlantic Salmon” is not exactly wild caught.  These fish come from ocean fisheries.  In other words these salmon are farmed, fed a crap diet, swim in over stocked pools filled with their excrement and overall are not beneficial to your health.

Sustainability in fishing is ensuring the fish you are eating was not caught with disregard to the environment in which it came from.  For instance, a lot of clams, scallops and oysters in this country are caught by dredging.  This is a method in which a metal mesh bag is drug along the bottom of the ocean which causes significant habitat damage.  A few other types of unsustainable fishing includes; Gillnetting (in some areas this is not responsible because it can entangle and kill sea turtles and other marine animals, however in Alaska salmon are sustainably caught this way because of low levels of by catch in those areas), longlining, purse seining (works well for small fish like herring, however when used for tuna all other kinds of species are caught and die, including dolphins), Trawling (can be destructive to the habitat).

On a positive note, there are some sustainable forms of fishing, these include; hook and lining (pole catching), harpooning, traps, reef nets, trolling (or employing a grizzly).

I mentioned earlier the species of fish you should be consuming.  There are a few species that are ok to eat from time to time, these include; Mahi Mahi, pacific halibut, Pollack, white sea bass, and shell fish.  And on the far end of the spectrum I avoid eating ahi tuna, shark, sword fish, and Chilean sea bass.  I avoid these fish due to a couple reasons.  One of which they are being overfished and to the point of threating their existence.  Also being a large fish, they are higher in mercury and don’t offer the vast health benefits in which the S.M.A.S.H fish do.

Here are a few good resources to use in terms of obtaining sustainable healthy fish

  • wildpacificsalmon.com
  • seabeef.com
  • jdockseafood.com
  • vitalchoice.com
  • seafood watch app

Be kind to your body and the environment by educating yourself and taking a interest in where your sea food is coming from and how it is being sourced.  It is very interesting to learn about something that we usually take for granted.

 

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